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Archbishop with an Attitude 
Oscar Romerds Sentir con la Iglesia 

Douglas Marcouiller, S.J. 

BX3701 S88x 

Studies in the spirituality of Jesuits. 

Issue: v.35:no.3(2003:May) 

Arrival Date: 05/22/2003 

O'Neill Periodicals 

35/3 • MAY 2003 


The Seminar is composed of a number of Jesuits appointed from their provinces in the 
United States. 

It concerns itself with topics pertaining to the spiritual doctrine and practice of 
Jesuits, especially United States Jesuits, and communicates the results to the members of 
the provinces through its publication, STUDIES IN THE SPIRITUALITY OF JESUITS. This is 
done in the spirit of Vatican Li's recommendation that religious institutes recapture the 
original inspiration of their founders and adapt it to the circumstances of modern times. 
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Robert L. Bireley, S.J., teaches history at Loyola University, Chicago, IL (2001). 
Richard A. Blake, S.J., is chairman of the Seminar and editor of STUDIES; he teaches 

film studies at Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA (2002). 
Claudio M. Burgaleta, S.J., is executive director of Estudios Pastorales para la Nueva 

Evangelizacion, in Oceanside, NY (2002). 
James F. Keenan, S.J., teaches moral theology at Weston Jesuit School of Theology, 

Cambridge, MA (2000). 
Lawrence J. Madden, S.J., directs the Georgetown Center for Liturgy, Washington, 

DC (2001). 
Douglas W. Marcouiller, S.J., teaches economics at Boston College, Chestnut Hill, 

MA (2000). 
G. Ronald Murphy, S.J., teaches German language and literature at Georgetown 

University, Washington, DC (2001). 
Thomas P. O'Malley, S.J., is associate dean of arts and sciences and teaches in the 

honors program at Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA (2000). 
Thomas P. Rausch, S.J., teaches theology at Loyola Marymount University, Los 

Angeles, CA (2002). 
William R. Rehg, S.J., teaches philosophy at St. Louis University, St. Louis, MO 


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Archbishop with an Attitude 

Oscar Romero's Sentir con la Iglesia 

Douglas Marcouiller, S.J. 


35/3 ■ MAY 2003 

e ^ 

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\ Jf 

The first word . . . 

"If you hear my voice, squeeze my hand." Many a hospital chaplain uses 
this sentence as he administers the last rites to comatose patients. 

I've been tempted to address those words — part inquiry, part exhor- 
tation — to other varieties of the comatose. Imagine, for example, a win- 
dowless classroom filled with undergraduates, who first thing on a Monday 
morning find themselves subjected to a learned explanation of the myster- 
ies of panchromatic film stock, parallel editing, and the lap dissolve. "Is 
anyone awake out there? Alive?" Or look out over a congregation on a 
Sunday morning, noses burrowing into those awful missalettes, a godsend 
for the deaf and a refuge for the bored. "Hello, good people! I'm preaching 
to you. At least put down your beads and devotional booklets and look up 
every once in a while, just to prove you're still here. Squeeze my hand." 
Any experienced teacher or preacher knows that dull, sinking feeling of an 
audience drifting away. It's our common lot in life. 

In contrast, a strong reaction to the spoken word comes rarely and, 
when it does, it comes as a shock. For example, many years ago, when I 
was "on the circuit" for giving retreats at motherhouses of sisters, I unwit- 
tingly stepped on a landmine and provoked a vigorous response — a shot, if 
not heard around the world, at least heard relentlessly until the end of my 
otherwise quiet week in the country. 

Here's what happened. The size of the group determined the for- 
mat. It was a "guided retreat," with two conferences each day and the 
opportunity for private direction for those who wished: a common practice 
in the 1970s. Since the military imagery of the Ignatian texts can be an 
obstacle for many women, especially after the antiwar furor of the Vietnam 
War era, it seemed a good idea to present the Two Standards as a re- 
flection on the nature of religious life. Smart, thought I. Not smart 
enough, as it turned out. 

The point, which seemed innocuous enough, even commonplace, 
was that the essence of religious life consists in the vow of obedience. 
Speaking as a homilist rather than a systematic theologian, I argued that 
most people in religious life do not feel many of the effects of poverty. We 
have access to education and health care; to food, shelter, and clothing; to 
vacations and entertainment. Remember those endless, acrimonious "life- 
style" debates of years past? Above all, in our evangelical poverty, we 
retain our human dignity, while the lot of many poor people is systematic 
degradation. In addition, most lay people lead a common life as radical as 
ours; their earnings and property benefit the family rather than the indi- 


vidual. Some choose to "simplify" their lives for many reasons: to save the 
environment or to pursue a Thoreauvian dream of returning to nature in a 
cabin in Idaho. Many secular priests in poor areas embrace the lifestyle of 
their parishioners. Some lay people even choose poverty out of religious 
motives, like Catholic Workers or many volunteers engaged in demanding 
ministries in impoverished regions throughout the world. No, our poverty 
does not distinguish us as religious. 

By their promise of fidelity unto death, married couples make a 
public profession of chastity appropriate to their state. Some lay people 
even choose a life of celibacy for several reasons: to care for an aging par- 
ent or invalid sibling, to devote all their energies to science, to art, to a 
dangerous profession, which may embrace anything from being a CIA 
undercover operative to serving victims of communicable diseases. Again, 
spiritual motives could conceivably color any of these key decisions. No, 
we religious may be eunuchs for the Kingdom of God, but we have a lot of 

Obedience, however, marks us as making a unique commitment to 
this Kingdom. We place our freedom as adults in the hands of others. 
While others have the trajectory of their lives defined by circumstances 
they cannot control, like poverty, disability, or talent, we make a deliber- 
ate choice to follow the call of Christ as it comes to us through the consti- 
tutions of our religious community and is mediated by other individuals 
placed in positions of authority. I can't think of any other group that 
makes this kind of profession. This line of argumentation seemed to me a 
reasonable alternate route around the massed armies of the Two Standards 
to the unconditional commitment Ignatius has in mind at this point in the 

Much to my surprise, the massed armies descended on the poor 
director as though in retaliation for a sneak attack. I had inadequate intel- 
ligence for my ill-fated foray. This particular community had been going 
through the post- Vatican convulsions of rewriting its constitutions. Not 
only the concepts but even the words "superior" and "obedience" held 
horrific connotations for them. They had begun to enter a brave new world 
of coordinators and councils, discernment and self-chosen, personal mis- 
sions. The path to the future was understandably paved with resentment 
of past abuses. "This obedience is a Jesuit thing," one sister told me with a 
bit of an edge in her voice; "it has nothing to do with the rest of us." 

I wonder about the "Jesuit thing." We used to talk a good game. 
Those of us old enough to have once worn bell-bottom pants with a fat 
belt remember the monthly reading of Ignatius's Letter to the Scholastics at 
Coimbra. We listened dutifully to the ideal Jesuit's goal of allowing himself 
to be led around like "a dead man" or "an old man's staff." Such a doc- 
trine, if followed, certainly would have made life a lot easier for superiors; 


but I wonder to what degree it ever was followed. We listened to the 
reading in the refectory, but did we believe it? Again, I wonder. 

Jesuit obedience, so the saying goes, consists in absolute authority 
vested in the general and his delegates, tempered only by absolute insubor- 
dination vested in everyone else. This is a tension that crosses generational 
boundaries quite promiscuously, from the scholastic threatening to leave 
the Society if he does not get a particular assignment to studies (Let me 
help you pack.) to the old-timer who refuses to stop driving or move out 
of his room of forty years. Both find support amid misguided friends who 
cheer them on for not letting themselves be pushed around. For an organi- 
zation that idealizes obedience, we have a strange habit of making folk 
heroes of the defiant and regarding inconvenient directives of superiors 
with the presumption of sinister intent, malice, or stupidity. 

Obedience of the intellect presents still another area of conflict. 
Ignatius gave us the "Rules for Thinking with the Church," which to a 
greater or lesser degree we read today with embarrassment, especially the 
lucky thirteenth rule: "What seems to me to be white, I will believe to be 
black if the hierarchical Church thus determines it." A world without 
theological disputation and resistance, active as well as passive, to various 
disciplinary rules from Roman officialdom probably never existed in the 
Society of Jesus or in the Church, and this side of the Parousia, it probably 
never will. Most of us usually have the good sense to keep quiet in the face 
of unpalatable realities, as the rules prescribe, but on rare occasions a good 
conscience demands speaking out, taking a stand, and going on record 
despite the consequences. To our credit, as a group, we have come to 
understand that fairly well. 

Most of us live lives of constant negotiation with our obedience, 
usually on the little things and occasionally with a major issue. This is fine. 
In one of his last testaments, John Courtney Murray left us a reflection 
entitled "The Danger of the Vows." We can't dehumanize ourselves and 
abrogate adult responsibility in the name of virtue. At the same time, we 
have dedicated our lives to the Church and our energies to a corporate 
ministry within the Society of Jesus. Loose cannons need not apply. 

When you think about it, we've made a lot of progress as a commu- 
nity in our thinking about obedience. Our assignments are no longer post- 
ed on the bulletin board at midnight on the feast of the Sacred Heart. 
(Surprise, you're going to Siberia next week!) We generally have a chance 
to talk about changes in ministry before they are finalized. We know the 
vocabulary and process of discernment with superiors. Representation, or 
asking the superior to change his mind about a particular case, has become 
a fairly common practice and can be done without confrontation. Dissent 
has its place, and so does authority. It's a lot messier now, especially for 
superiors, but it's much more human, and thus more graced. 

We Jesuits are not alone in our struggles with obedience and negoti- 
ation. In the pages that follow, Doug Marcouiller shows the life of Arch- 
bishop Oscar Romero as one of ongoing negotiation among the values he 
held dearest in his life. No, he was not a Jesuit, but he was Ignatian — a 
priest of the diocese who made a thirty-day retreat and who regularly 
made his annual retreat according to the outline of the Spiritual Exercises. 
He chose as his episcopal motto the familiar phrase from Ignatius's rules, 
"To think with the Church." 

As his journals show so clearly, Archbishop Romero was without 
question a dedicated man of the Church and he regarded the papacy with 
an almost childlike awe. Yet he gradually realized how far the Vatican was 
from El Salvador, both in geography and in sensibility. The Roman design 
for the church in Latin America, its perception of the Marxist threat, and 
its awareness of the political situation did not mesh with the realities he 
perceived in city streets and rural villages of his archdiocese. His diaries 
reveal a man of great love, torn between his duty to the hierarchical 
Church, to his country, and to the people God had entrusted to his care. 
His life holds a lesson of holy negotiation that can inspire us all. 

STUDIES and its readers are privileged to have this report from Doug 
Marcouiller. An economist by trade, Doug's work has several times taken 
him to Central America for prolonged visits. As he worked through the 
written records, he was able to contact many people who knew Archbishop 
Romero personally, and their observations flesh out the texts that the 
archbishop left behind. It is an inspiring story, and clearly it was a labor of 
love for Doug to retell it. We are blessed to have it. 

Richard A. Blake, S.J. 




Introduction 1 

In the Church Militant? With the Orthodox Church? 5 

Romero's Three Years as Archbishop 7 

Thinking with the Local Church 18 

Aguilares 18 

The Cathedral 27 

"The Little Hospital" 35 

Thinking with the Bishop of Rome 38 

March 1977: Now, courage! 39 

June 1978: A Friendly Little Chat 41 

May 1979: He Reminded Me of Poland 45 

January 1980: Not Only Social Justice and Love of the Poor 47 

Romero's Thinking with the Church 50 



Douglas Marcouiller, S.J., finished his bachelor's de- 
gree at Princeton and his master's at Yale before serv- 
ing as a layman with the Jesuit volunteers in Hondu- 
ras. Alter entering the Missouri Province, he returned 
to Honduras tor regency, and alter ordination taught 
economics and did parish work in San Salvador. He 
earned a degree in economics at the University of 
Texas and then came to Boston College, where he is 
now an associate professor in the Department of Eco- 
nomics and director of the Latin American Studies 
program. He returns to San Salvador on a regular 
basis to teach short courses in economics. 


Archbishop with an Attitude: 

Oscar Romero's Sentir con la Iglesia 

The archbishop of San Salvador died a martyr's death 
because of his fidelity not only to the Gospel of Christ 
but to the Magisterium of the Church. His final years 
were a living martyrdom caused by divisions in his 
country and misunderstanding on the part of those he 
most respected and loved. A gentle priest, he became a 
symbol of strength in a violent world of government- 
sponsored repression. His path to martyrdom was clear. 
He had committed his life to "thinking with the Church, 
the body of Christ in history. " 


On his first trip to Central America, Pope John Paul II 
stopped unexpectedly at the cathedral in San Salvador. 
Within its walls of rough brick and poured concrete, the 
Pope knelt to pray with his hands on the tomb of Archbishop Oscar 
Arnulfo Romero, who had been assassinated three years earlier. He 
called Romero a "zealous pastor led by the love of God and the 
service of his brothers and sisters to the giving up of his life." 1 
Though understated, the praise is rather remarkable; less than a year 

I thank the members of the Seminar on Jesuit Spirituality, the Jesuits of El 
Salvador, and especially Msgr. Ricardo Urioste, vicar general of the Archdiocese of 
San Salvador during Archbishop Romero's time and after, for their help with this project. 

Orientation, March 13, 1983, 14. 

2 -0> Douglas Marcouiller, S.J. 

before Romero's death, the Pope had discussed sending an apostolic 
administrator to run the archdiocese in Romero's place. 2 

At the foot of the tomb where the Pope knelt was a plaque 
with Romero's episcopal motto, Sentir con la Iglesia ("to feel" or, as we 
usually say in English, "to think with the Church"). Romero knew 
the Ignatian resonance of this phrase. He encountered the Exercises 

as a student at the Gregorian Uni- 
^ — - ,— ■" — — --— mm versity, made the thirty-day retreat 

Thinking with the Church as a Y oun g P riest ' and often r e- 

demanded discernment that turned to the Exercises, the last 

was attentive to the time J ust one montn before his 

particular circumstances of death ' 3 R ° m ero ^^w Ignatius's 

the local Catholic community mle f for havin S the ri S ht attitude 

and to the specific needs of in * e <*"?*■ ™ e *** bee u n f" 

o i j • • jl vised to hold to be black what he 

Salvaaoran society. . . , . . , . . 

9 saw as white, should the hierarchi- 

— — ^ _ cal Church so determine. 4 Know- 
ing all this, he wrote during a re- 
treat before his ordination as bishop, "My consecration is summa- 
rized in this word: Sentir con la Iglesia/' 5 He later wrote to Cardinal 


Diario pastoral, May 7, 1979. The Diario pastoral consists of transcriptions of 
tapes recorded by Romero between March 31, 1978, and March 20, 1980. I have used 
the transcripts that were published as vol. 9 in Coleccion Homilias y Diario de Mons. 
Oscar Arnuljo Romero (San Salvador: Arzobispado de San Salvador, 2000). The 
homilies will hereafter be identified by the title Homilias, followed by the date. The 
transcripts were first published by the archdiocese in 1990, and an English translation 
was published entitled Archbishop Oscar Romero: A Shepherd's Diary, trans. Irene 
Hodgson (Cincinnati: St. Anthony Messenger Press, 1993). 

As a young priest, Romero made the thirty-day retreat in Santa Tecla, under 
the direction of Miguel Elizondo, S.J., who at the time was the Central American 
novice master (Segundo Azcue, S.J., Newsletter of the Central American Province, 
April 1980). 

The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, trans. George E. Ganss, S.J. (St. Louis: 
The Institute of Jesuit Sources, 1992), no. 365 (p. 135). Hereafter this source will be 
abbreviated to SpEx, followed by the marginal number and, when helpful, by the 
"verse" number. 

'"Spiritual Diary," 45. Romero kept handwritten retreat notes from time to 
time, photocopies of which are found in the Brockman Romero Papers in the library 
of DePaul University in Chicago. I will refer to these unpublished notes as the 
"Spiritual Diary." 

An Archbishop with an Attitude <? 3 

Sebastiano Baggio, 'Tor many years my motto has been 'Sentir con la 
Iglesia.' It always will be." 6 

Romero, however, led the Archdiocese of San Salvador as he 
saw fit. He was often in trouble with the Vatican and always in 
trouble with other Salvadoran bishops. What, then, did it mean to 
Romero to think with the Church? 

As I read the record, Romero's thinking with the Church went 
beyond intellectual assent to authoritative teaching. For him it was 
an extremely rich concept: 

■ To think with the Church is not a matter of the head alone. It 
is a personal act of identification with the Church, the Body of 
Christ in history, sacrament of salvation in the world. 

■ To identify with the Church means to embrace its mission, the 
mission of Jesus, to proclaim the Reign of God to the poor. To 
think with the Church is therefore an apostolic act. 

■ The power of the Gospel is revealed in particular historical 
circumstances. In San Salvador in 1980, to think with the 
Church meant following the pastoral lines sketched by the 
Second Vatican Council in Lumen gentium and Gaudium et spes, 
by Paul VI in Evangelii nuntiandi, and by the Latin American 
bishops at Medellin and Puebla — but not only that. Thinking 
with the Church demanded discernment that was attentive to 
the particular circumstances of the local Catholic community 
and to the specific needs of Salvadoran society. 

■ Romero maintained a lifelong devotion to the pope. His devo- 
tion to the successors of Peter did not carry over to the Vati- 
can's diplomats and bureaucrats. 

■ Finally, for Romero, to think with the Church meant not to 
think with "the powers of this world." Romero listened to 
them, talked with them, but refused to align himself with 

Romero talked about the Spiritual Exercises in an informal 
interview granted during the 1980 Puebla Conference in Mexico. 
Speaking of having the mind of the Church, Romero said: "St. 
Ignatius would present it today as a Church that the Holy Spirit is 
stirring up in our people, in our communities, a Church that means 

Letter to Baggio, May 1978 (The Brockman Romero Papers). 

4 <$- Douglas Marcouiller, S.J. 

not only the teaching of the Magisterium, fidelity to the pope, but 
also service to this people and the discernment of the signs of the 
times in the light of the Gospel/' 7 Msgr. Ricardo Urioste, Romero's 
vicar general and close collaborator, says simply that, for Romero, 
sentir con la Iglesia meant to be rooted in God, to defend the poor, 
and to accept whatever conflicts arose from fidelity to the Lord. 8 

This essay takes a narrative rather than an analytical approach 
to Romero's way of thinking with the Church. I begin with an 
overview of Romero's three years as archbishop of San Salvador, a 

framework in which to place spe- 
^ _ ^^^^_ cine stories. I then illustrate Rome- 
ro's way of thinking with the local 
In San Salvador he was out church/ focusing on three places 

of step with the progressive important in his ministry: the 

pastoral line of the long- town of A guilares, the cathedral in 

serving archbishop, Luis S an Salvador, and the small hospi- 

Chdvez, and the other t al where Romero lived. Finally, 

auxiliary, Bishop Arturo turning to Romero's way of think- 

Rivera Damas. Among Jesuits ing with the universal Church, I 
Romero was known focus on his interaction with the 

especially for his attack on Holy See. 

the Jesuit high school, which A co lleague once said to me, 

he accused of Marxism. "Romero is so last-century, ,/ imply- 

^^^^^^^^_^^^^^____ ing that his story ought to be left 

there. Maybe Romero himself 
would agree: "The Church is not just a rearview mirror. The Church 
is moving forward, and it also needs new perspectives/' 9 In many 
ways, Romero's perspective is foreign to Jesuits in the United States 


The short interview with Romero was originally published in Jose Magaria, 

S.J., Ejercicios espirituales, en, desde, y para America Latina (Torreon, Mexico: 1980). I 

quote here a translation by James Brockman that appeared as "Reflections on the 

Spiritual Exercises," by Oscar Romero (The Way, Supplement no. 55 [Spring 1986], 


In El Salvador, the title "Monsenor" is given to bishops and to monsignori 

who are not bishops; Urioste is not a bishop. Romero was generally referred to as 

"Monsenor." I will follow this usage in direct quotations but substitute "Archbishop" 

elsewhere. Urioste gave an interview with the author of this issue of Studies on 

December 7, 2002. Hereafter this interview will be referenced as Urioste, Interview, 

December 7, 2002. 

9 Homilias, November 26, 1978. 

An Archbishop with an Attitude $ 5 

today. He was a bishop, with a role in the Church different from 
ours, and he was Salvadoran. The church he led had a history of 
power and privilege protected by the state. The nation he served 
was caught in geopolitical processes over which it had little control. 
The people he loved were pushed to the edge. 

But perhaps Romero, a non-Jesuit friend of the Society, does 
have something to teach us about serving Christ's mission today, as 
friends in the Lord and friends with the poor in a divided society. 10 1 
imagine him saying: "As the church in the United States struggles to 
reform its inner life, it should also keep an eye on the mission of the 
Church in the world. Listen and learn. Listen to God, to the Magis- 
terium, and to the people, especially to the poor. Discern carefully 
and then speak up, even when it's uncomfortable. Do not bow 
before the powers of this world. Proclaim the Reign of God." Rome- 
ro can't show us precisely how to do this, living as we do in a 
different time and place, but he can inspire us, as saints do. 11 The 
archbishop can share with us his attitude. 

In the Church Militant? 
With the Orthodox Church? 

I'd like to begin with a short preliminary note. The phrase sentir 
con la Iglesia does not appear in the original texts of the Spiritual 
Exercises. It comes from a short title that we now customarily 
insert before marginal no. 352. That title is "Reglas para sentir con la 
Iglesia" in Spanish, usually translated into English as "Rules for 
Thinking with the Church." Louis Puhl says that this departure from 
the Autograph "has been added for clearness and is traditional." 12 

"Servants of Christ's mission," "friends in the Lord," and "friends with the 
poor" are phrases used by General Congregation 34 in its d. 2. See Documents of the 
Thirty-Fourth General Congregation of the Society of Jesus (DocsGC34) (St. Louis: The 
Institute of Jesuit Sources, 1995), 25-38 passim. 

The cause for the canonization of Archbishop Romero was submitted to the 
Vatican in 1996, at the conclusion of the canonical investigation at the archdiocesan 
level. Joining with many others, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops 
voted unanimous support for the beatification (Origins 29 [November 25, 1999]: 24). 


Louis Puhl, S.J., The Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius Based on Studies in the 

Language of the Autograph (Chicago: Loyola University Press, 1951), 197. 

6 ^ Douglas Marcouiller, SJ. 

Particularly in English, however, the title may confuse rather than 
clarify. George Ganss notes that no. 352 "involves far more than the 
realm of thought or correct belief." 13 

Moreover, the early texts of the Exercises themselves disagree. 
In the Autograph, no. 352 reads, "Para el sentido verdadero que en 
la iglesia militante debemos tener, se guarden las reglas siguientes," 
which Puhl translates, "The following rules should be observed to 
foster the true attitude of mind we ought to have in the Church 
Militant." 14 Andre de Freux's Latin Vulgate edition of the Exercises, 
which like the Autograph dates from the 1540s, gives a different 
version of no. 352: 15 "Regulae aliquot servanda?, ut cum orthodoxa 
Ecclesia vere sentiamus." Note that "in" the Church has changed to 
"with" the Church. Jesus Corella claims that "in" highlights the 
exercitant's participation in the life of the Church, while "with" sets 
up a relation between two different entities, "one of which estab- 
lishes the norm and another which must align itself' with the 
former. 16 Moreover, the Church "militant" becomes the "orthodox" 
Church, losing in translation, says Corella, the vigor of the Church 
"of the streets." 

So which is it? "In the Church militant?" "With the orthodox 
Church?" In fact, Ignatius knew and approved both texts, frustrating 
any search for the "right" one. Perhaps this is a blessing, drawing 
attention away from the text of the rules and refocusing it on their 
purpose. In David Fleming's words, these "guidelines" are meant "to 
be helpful in developing a true and loving sensitivity to the ways of 
thinking, feeling, and acting as a Catholic in our present-day 
Church." 17 Gerald Fagin's essay in STUDIES, "Fidelity in the Church — 

13 SpEx endnote 163 (p. 197). 

Puhl, Spiritual Exercises, no. 352. 

The Vulgate is from 1547, the Autograph from a few years earlier. For a 
complete discussion see Sancti Ignatii de Loyola Exercitia Spiritualia, ed. Josephus 
Calveras, S.I., and Candidus de Dalmases, S.I., vol. 100 of the series Monumenta 
historica Societatis Iesu (Rome: Historical Institute of the Society of Jesus, 1969), 86- 

Jesus Corella, S.J., Sentir la Iglesia: Comentario a las reglas ignacianas para el 
sentido verdadero de Iglesia (Bilbao: Ediciones Mensajero, 1995), 106 f. 


David L. Fleming, S.J., The Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius: A Literal 
Translation and a Contemporary Reading (Saint Louis: The Institute of Jesuit Sources, 
1978), 231. 

An Archbishop with an Attitude <0* 7 

Then and Now/' offers an excellent introduction to the Rules and to 
their contemporary interpretation by decree 11 of General Congrega- 
tion 34, "On Having a Proper Attitude of Service in the Church/' 18 

This paper is not an essay in translation or textual criticism. I 
interchangeably use the expressions "to think with the Church/ 7 "to 
have the sense of the Church," "to have the mind of the Church," 
and "sentir con la Iglesia," appealing to Romero's example rather 
than to textual criticism to suggest what the phrase might mean. I 
tend to avoid the most obvious contemporary translation of sentir (to 
feel). I recognize, however, that the compassion and empathy con- 
veyed by "to feel" may be precisely what we need today. 

Romero's Three Years as Archbishop 

Romero was installed as archbishop of San Salvador on Tues- 
day, February 22, 1977, in a quiet ceremony in the church 
attached to the seminary of San Jose de la Montana. 19 

It was not yet a time of war; massacres like those at the Rio 
Sumpul and El Mozote were still several years away. 20 However, 
even the most timid attempts to modify El Salvador's highly skewed 
pattern of land ownership had already been reversed, and fictitious 
reform was beginning to give way to real repression. Hard-line 
defense minister Gen. Carlos Humberto Romero, who was not 
related to Archbishop Romero, was the government's candidate in 
the presidential election held on February 20. Three priests had been 
expelled from the country during the preceding month, and the 


See Gerald M. Fagin, S.J., "Fidelity in the Church — Then and Now," Studies 
in the Spirituality of Jesuits 31, no. 3 (May 1999). Also see DocsGC34 143-53. 


Readers looking for a more complete picture should turn to biographies 
written by Jesus Delgado, Oscar A. Romero: Biografia. (San Salvador: UCA Editores, 
1990), and James Brockman, S.J., Romero: A Life, (Maryknoll: Orbis, 1989). 


On December 11, 1981, the Atlacatl Battalion, trained by U.S. advisers, 
murdered several hundred civilians in the town of El Mozote. Years later, skeletal 
remains of 143 bodies were unearthed from the sacristy of the church alone. Of 
these, 131 were remains of children under the age of twelve. Cartridge cases found 
among the remains identified the ammunition as manufactured for the U.S. Govern- 
ment at Lake City, Missouri. See the report of the United Nations Truth Commission, 
De la locura a la esperanza (San Jose: Editorial DEI, 1993). For a full account, see Mark 
Danner, The Massacre at El Mozote (New York, Vintage Books, 1994). 

8 <f Douglas Marcouiller, S.J. 

house of a fourth had been bombed. 21 Political tension was one 
reason for a quiet installation. 

Another reason for the quiet ceremony was that the archdio- 
cese wasn't quite sure what to expect from the new archbishop. 
Many expected the worst. Jesus Delgado, a priest who later collabo- 
rated closely with Romero, wrote that when Romero began to speak 
that morning, "the silence was sepulchral. ,,22 

Romero was not unknown. Ordained a bishop in 1970, he had 
served as auxiliary in San Salvador until his 1974 transfer to the 
Diocese of Santiago de Maria. In San Salvador he was out of step 
with the progressive pastoral line of the long-serving archbishop, 

Luis Chavez, and the other auxil- 
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ iary, Bishop Arturo Rivera Damas. 

Among Jesuits Romero was 
For now, it is enough to say known especially for his attack on 

that Romero's response to the Jesuit high school, which he 

Rutilio's death strengthened accused of Marxism. 23 

his identification with the Some have argued that Ro _ 

archdiocese and strained his mero > s pastoral approach began to 

relations with the Vatican. change while he served as bishop 

^^^_^^^^^_^^^^^^^^_ in Santiago de Maria. 24 It was 

there, Urioste says, that Romero 
began to approach the poor not just as people who had to be helped 
but as actors themselves. 25 Even in Santiago de Maria, however, 
Romero was known for restructuring a catechetical training center 
inspired by the documents of Medellin. 26 He also failed to protest 
publicly when the National Guard murdered five campesinos at Tres 
Calles and a sixth nearby, although he did write a private letter of 
protest to the president. 27 It is no surprise that, as his Jesuit spiritual 


Brockman, Romero: A Life, 1-5. 


Delgado, Biografia, 71. 

23 Ibid., 53-59. 

Zacarias Diez and Juan Macho, En Santiago de Maria me tope con la miseria: 
Dos anos de la vida de Mons. Romero (publisher and date unclear). 


Urioste, Interview, December 7, 2002. 


Delgado, Biografia, 63-66. 

Ibid., 67-70, 73 f. Brockman, Romero: A Life, 54. For a detailed account see 
Diez and Macho, En Santiago, 59 ff. 

An Archbishop with an Attitude <> 9 

director wrote, some did not consider Romero suitable for the 
ministry of archbishop, given the circumstances of the country. 28 
Urioste, who became Romero's vicar general, did not even attend the 
installation. 29 

Romero's first month as archbishop was dramatic. Evidence of 
fraud in the presidential election mounted, and protectors gathered 
downtown. On February 28 troops fired on the crowd, many of 
whom fled for refuge to the Dominican church. Dozens of people 
were killed. 30 

On March 5 the Salvadoran Conference of Bishops prepared a 

letter condemning specific violations of human rights and also 

pointing to fundamentally unjust social structures. The letter was to 

be read at Mass on Sunday, March 13. On March 12 Romero got 

cold feet, according to a story later 

told by Bishop Rivera Damas. At ^^^__^_^__^^^^_^_ 

noon on March 12, Romero said to r , . ,, . T . 

„. //rrl _ t It is no surprise that, as his 

Rivera: The letter is inopportune. T . r . . ... 

T , i . . . ! .i T j ,. Jesuit spiritual director 

The letter takes sides; I don t J r 

know why this letter was is- wrote, some did not consider 
sued/' 31 Later that same afternoon, Romero suitahle f or the 

the pastor of Aguilares, Rutilio ministry of archbishop, given 
Grande, S.J., and two companions ** circumstances of the country. 
were murdered while on their _^ __ 
way to celebrate Mass in El Pais- 

nal. That night, Romero went to Aguilares and something happened. 
As Rivera tells it, Romero not only read the letter at Mass on Sunday 
the thirteenth, he gave such a beautiful commentary that "we saw 
that the wisdom of God was with him. From that moment the man 
was changed/' 32 

More will be said about this in the next section of the essay, 
focusing on the church in Aguilares. For now, it is enough to say 


Azcue, Newsletter, April 1980. 


Urioste, Interview, December 7, 2002. 


Brockman, Romero: A Life, 6. 

Arturo Rivera Damas, remarks at the Cathedral of San Salvador, March 25, 
1980, published in the Newsletter of the Central American Province (April 1980). 

32 ibid. 

10 <f Douglas Marcouiller, S.J. 

that Romero's response to Rutilio's death strengthened his identifica- 
tion with the archdiocese and strained his relations with the Vatican. 

Romero made his first visit to Rome as archbishop at the end 
of March, roughly a month after his installation. Soon after, he 
published his first pastoral letter to the archdiocese, The Paschal 
Church. In April a small leftist guerrilla group known as the Popular 
Liberation Forces (Fuerzas Populares de Liberation, FPL) kidnapped 
the foreign minister, Mauricio Borgonovo, demanding the release of 
thirty-seven political prisoners in exchange for his life. 33 No solution 
was found, despite appeals by Romero and others, and Borgonovo's 
body was discovered on May 10. The next day, Father Alfonso 
Navarro and a companion were murdered in an act of vengeance, 
demonstrating that the Right blamed the church for revolutionary 
violence. A week later, Aguilares was occupied by troops who killed 
at least fifty people and carried hundreds away. 34 Looking back a 
year later, Romero wrote as follows to Cardinal Baggio, prefect of 
the Congregation for Bishops: 

In my first months as pastor of this archdiocese, it fell to me to 
witness impotently the assassinations of two priests, the expulsion 
and/or exile of nearly twenty more, the profanation of the Blessed 
Sacrament in the military occupation of the entire rural zone of 
Aguilares — El Paisnal, including its church and parish house, and 
above all the harassment, jailing, torture, disappearance, and murder 
of poor Salvadoran peasants from my archdiocese, in whom the Lord 
Jesus Christ was repeatedly crucified [Lumen gentium, no. 8]. . . . 
Confronted with this iniquity, all the more scandalous for occurring 
in a country whose governors are proudly Catholic, I could not be 
silent. 35 

Far from silent, Romero preached powerfully and at length. It 
is said that so many people tuned their radios to his Sunday homi- 
lies that one could walk down the street without missing a sentence, 
passing from one person's radio to the next. Romero not only spoke, 
he also listened — to pastors and to peasants, to workers and to 


Brockman, Romero: A Life, 25. 

34 Ibid., 31 f. 

35 Letter to Cardinal Baggio, May 21,1978, photocopy in The Brockman 
Romero Papers. See "Lumen gentium," in Vatican Council II: The Conciliar and Post 
Conciliar Documents (DocsVatH), ed. Austin Flannery, O.P., et al. (Collegeville: The 
Liturgical Press, 1975), no. 8 (p. 358). 

An Archbishop with an Attitude «♦• 11 

business people. Urioste, the vicar general, tells a story about listen- 

I remember a meeting with pastoral theorists, theologians, moralists, 
canonists, and all the brains of the archdiocese. Monsenor would ask 
a question and one or another would answer, and he took notes, 
took notes, took notes, took notes. Then he thanked everyone and 
the meeting ended. . . . We went down the steps of the seminary, 
and there was a beggar. Monsenor went over to him, and I thought, 
"He's going to give him alms." You know what he did? He asked the 
beggar the same questions that he had asked us. . . . He had a great 
capacity to listen, as though he wanted to be sure of the sensus 
fidelium, to see what the people thought. 36 

Gen. Romero was inaugurated president of El Salvador on July 

1, 1977. Archbishop Romero had 

established a policy of attending — ^^^^^^— ^^^^^^^^— 

no official ceremonies until the «, wmt tQ cM attention to 

government began a serious inves- fhe witnes$ of holinesS/ of 

tigation of the murders in Aguila- .. -. - » * . 

G . . ° serenity, that has been given 

res, and in a departure from lone- , ^ , xf xT ? 

,. ,.,. r , - , f us by our brothers, the Jesuit 

standing tradition, he refused to „ ^ .. f ~ - 

j °. , ^ Fathers. . . . No one has flea. 

attend the inauguration. Two J „ 

other bishops did attend, along ' ' ' V • 

with the nuncio. Romero de- ____^_^^__^_ 
fended his action in the subse- 
quent meeting of the Episcopal Conference, citing Vatican II, Mede- 
llin, and Evangelii nuntiandi. 37 

On June 21, 1977, the White Warriors' Union, a shadowy 
Rightist group, gave the Society of Jesus one month to abandon El 
Salvador; any Jesuit remaining at the end of the month would be 
killed. No Jesuit left. In his homily of July 24, Romero said: "I want 
to call attention to the witness of holiness, of serenity, that has been 
given us by our brothers, the Jesuit Fathers. . . . No one has fled. . . . 
Thank you." 38 Romero's visible solidarity with the Society at the time 
of Rutilio's murder and again in July was one of the reasons for the 
charge often leveled against him in later years, that he was manipu- 
lated by the Jesuits. 


Urioste, Interview, December 7, 2002. 
Brockman, Romero: A Life, 71. 
38 Homilias, June 24, 1978. 

12 <0> Douglas Marcouiller, S.J. 

Lay pastoral workers in rural areas of the archdiocese contin- 
ued to be targeted for repression as 1977 wore on. One example: 
Felipe de Jesus Chacon, a member of the national secretariat of the 
Cursillos de Cristiandad, was seized by police while walking home 
down a dusty road at the end of August. His mutilated body was 
found the next morning, with the skin of his face and head peeled 



Why the persecution? In Romero's view, "At the root of 
everything was a government manipulated by intransigent owners 
of capital unwilling to allow the Church to proclaim its complete 
message, which awakens the critical conscience of the people/ 740 
Bishop Marco Rene Revelo, at the time auxiliary bishop in Santa 
Ana, read the situation differently. In the October Synod of Bishops 
in Rome, Revelo said: "The rural catechists, the best prepared, the 
most aware, those who always have the greater capability of leader- 
ship, are rapidly falling into the nets that the Communist Party and 
the extreme-left Maoist groups spread for them, and they quickly fill 
their ranks." 41 Two months later, Bishop Revelo was transferred by 
the Holy See from Santa Ana to San Salvador to work with Romero 
as his auxiliary. 

Revelo and his brother bishops were not only concerned about 
the formation of catechists and of the officially commissioned lay 
preachers known as Delegates of the Word. They also worried about 
the formation of priests in the national seminary, which was located 
in San Salvador. In 1972 the Jesuit faculty and administrators, who 
were in line with the pastoral plan of the archdiocese but out of step 
with the bishops of other dioceses, were removed from the seminary 
that they had led since 1915. 42 The first few months of 1978 saw a 
renewed dispute among the bishops about pastoral training in the 
seminary. The dispute was exacerbated in April, when Romero 
offered short-term refuge on the seminary grounds to people fleeing 
a government-sponsored attack on peasant organizations in the 
town of San Pedro Perulapan, a few miles east of San Salvador. 43 


Brockman, Romero: A Life, 92. 

Letter to Baggio, June 24, 1978 (The Brockman Romero Papers). 

Quoted in Brockman, Romero: A Life, 93. 
42 Ibid., 51. 
43 Ibid., 108 f. 

An Archbishop with an Attitude <0> 23 

Rome involved itself in the matter. The tenor of the discussion can 
be gathered from a letter Romero wrote to Cardinal Gabriel Garrone, 
prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education: 

You refer, Your Eminence, to my "known devotion to the Holy See." 
That, Your Eminence, you may take as certain. What I would also 
like to be certain about is that this sacred congregation is well in- 
formed about the reality of what has been and is the life of our 
central seminary. I have very well-founded reasons to think it is 
not. 44 

At this point Cardinal Baggio, prefect of the Congregation for Bish- 
ops, invited Romero to Rome for a "fraterno e amichevole colloquio" 
(a friendly, brotherly conversation). That little chat will be described 
later in this essay. 

People who turned to the Salvadoran judicial system for help 
in dealing with political prisoners and the "disappeared" found no 
relief. Habeas corpus had no meaning. Torture continued. Romero 
noted this in his homily of April 30, 1978. In response, the Supreme 
Court challenged Romero to "name names" of corrupt judges. 
Unwilling to be drawn into denunciation of particular persons, 
Romero responded with such a clear indictment of systemic prob- 
lems that the Supreme Court backed down. 45 

Economic recession and military repression strengthened the 
grass-roots organizations rather than destroying them. Many people 
active in these organizations were also active Catholics. Archbishop 
Romero and Bishop Rivera Damas, who had been transferred to 
Santiago de Maria as Romero's successor there, clarified the relation- 
ship between the church and the popular organizations in a joint 
pastoral letter issued in August 1978, timed to coincide with the 
patronal feast of San Salvador, the Transfiguration. 

Father Ernesto Barrera was killed on November 28, 1978. The 
government claimed that he was killed in a shoot-out with members 
of the Popular Liberation Forces, the group that had earlier kid- 
napped Borgonovo. In the midst of the subsequent crisis, the nuncio 
sent Romero a note saying that the Vatican had appointed Bishop 

^Quoted ibid., 120. 
45 Ibid., 121-25. 

14 <v> Douglas Marcouiller, S.J. 

Antonio Quarracino, who had already arrived in the city, as apos- 
tolic visitor to the archdiocese. 46 

The year 1979 opened with an attack by government forces on 
a small retreat house in San Salvador, El Despertar. Four teen-aged 
retreatants and Father Octavio Ortiz, a young priest whom Romero 
himself had ordained, were murdered. 47 

Romero left two days later for the meeting of the Latin Ameri- 
can bishops in Puebla, Mexico. Upon his return to San Salvador, he 
said, "[T]hose who hoped that Puebla would be a step backward, a 
repudiation of Medellin, have turned out to be mistaken." 48 One can 
sense in this statement the tension that surrounded the meeting, the 
first general meeting of Latin American bishops to be held during 
the pontificate of John Paul II. Among those who had hoped for a 
different outcome was another Salvadoran delegate to the meeting, 
the president of the Episcopal Conference of El Salvador, Bishop 
Pedro Arnoldo Aparicio. Romero described in his diary a declaration 
by Aparicio "in which he blames the violence in El Salvador on the 
Jesuits and denounces them for having come to Puebla to defend 
the position of the archbishop, which is, according to the declaration, 
'indefensible. " ,49 Remembering the context of Aparicio's statement, 
shortly after the murders at El Despertar, Romero might well have 
issued an outraged response. Romero's response, however, was 
measured. He agreed to meet with Father General Pedro Arrupe, 
who was also present in Puebla, to prepare a statement, "not so 
much to defend ourselves as for the good of the church and to 
avoid the dangers this declaration [by Bishop Aparicio] might un- 
leash against the Society of Jesus." 50 

One of the low points of 1979 was Romero's May visit to 
Rome, his third as archbishop. After much work, Romero managed 
to arrange an audience with Pope John Paul. Romero recorded that 
the Pope "referred to the report of the apostolic visitation of Monse- 
rior Quarracino, who acknowledges an extremely delicate situation 
and recommends, as a solution to the pastoral deficiencies and to the 

46 Ibid., 164 f. 


Diario pastoral, January 20-21, 1979. 
^Homilias, February 16, 1979. 


Diario pastoral, February 3, 1979. 
50 Ibid., February 3, 1979. 

An Archbishop with an Attitude <v> 15 

lack of union among the bishops, an apostolic administrator sede 
plena." 51 In effect, if Quarracino's suggestion were adopted, "Romero 
would remain archbishop in name, but another would govern." 52 I 
will return to this proposal in the last section of the essay. While 
Romero was in Rome, the security forces fired on a demonstration in 
front of the cathedral in San Salvador, leaving perhaps twenty-five 
dead and many more wounded. 53 

As always, Romero issued a pastoral letter in August on the 
feast of the Transfiguration. The title of the 1979 letter was The 
Mission of the Church in the Present Crisis of the Country. Reformist 
military officers also recognized a "present crisis," and they staged a 
coup on October 15. M "The young officers had demonstrated to the 
whole world, without intending or wanting to do so, that the arch- 
bishop's prophetic denunciations had been solidly based." 55 People 
awaited the pastor's public response to the events. Romero issued a 
statement suggesting that it would be prudent "to watch and wait 
before judging and acting." The same statement reminded the new 
government that actions speak louder than promises, and prayed 
that God might now open the path to justice and peace. Citing 
Gaudium et spes, Romero offered to engage in dialog with this new 
government, stipulating only that the state and the church both 
recognize that their purpose is to serve the people, each in its own 
way. 56 

Romero's openness toward the new government was rejected 
by some of the "ecclesial base communities." All along, Romero had 
pursued a two-pronged pastoral strategy. One dimension was the 
use of radio and the print media to reach as many people as possible 
with his preaching. The other was to support intensive evangeliza- 
tion in small ecclesial communities. As has already been noted, some 

51 Ibid., May 7, 1979. 


Brockman, Romero: A Life, 167. 
53 Ibid., 171. 

An excellent overview of these events can be found in Paying the Price: 
Ignacio Ellacuria and the Murdered Jesuits of El Salvador, by Teresa Whitfield 
(Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1995), 120-128. 

Delgado, Biografia, 164. 

Diario pastoral, October 15, 1979. The allusion is to no. 76 of "Gaudium et 
spes," in DocsVatU, 984 f. 

16 ^ Douglas Marcouiller, S.J. 

members of these communities found that their Christian vocation 
led them to leftist political commitments, a phenomenon that Rome- 
ro and Bishop Rivera Damas had addressed at length in their joint 
pastoral letter of 1978. When some of the leftist organizations re- 
jected the professedly reformist coup as a sham, their associates in 
the base communities also denounced Romero's wait-and-see atti- 
tude toward the new junta. 

As weeks passed, it became clear to all that the hope for 
reform was misplaced. The young officers and civilian members of 
the government were unable to wrest effective control of the military 
from the hands of its older hard-line leaders, one of whom retained 
the post of minister of defense. The most trustworthy civilian mem- 
bers of the government resigned in January 1980 "as a protest at the 
impossibility of carrying out the reforms promised by the October 15 
movement/ 757 Repression escalated dramatically under the so-called 
Second Junta, an alliance of the Christian Democrats with the mili- 
tary, supported by the United States. 

On January 22, Romero recorded in his diary, someone 
opened fire on a large, peaceful demonstration of organizations of 

the Left, killing many. Eleven bod- 
ies were gathered from the cathe- 
Repression escalated dral steps alone. The government 

dramatically under the so- told Romero that they had not 

called Second Junta, been responsible, but Romero 

an alliance of the Christian noted, "many witnesses said that 

Democrats with the military, the guards who had been on the 
supported by the United balcony of the National Palace had 

States. hred on the crowd/' just as they 

would again during Romero's own 
^ — funeral. 58 A few weeks later, when 

it was announced that the United 
States was considering military assistance to this government, Rome- 
ro wrote a letter of protest to President Jimmy Carter. 

Romero made his last visit to the Vatican at the end of January 
1980. The visit included an audience with Pope John Paul that 
ended with "a brotherly embrace." Romero recorded that he left the 

Brockman, Romero: A Life, 216. 


Diario pastoral, January 22, 1980. 

An Archbishop with an Attitude <? 17 

Holy Father "feeling the confirmation and strength of God for my 
poor ministry/' 59 Urioste maintains that even then Romero was 
misunderstood by the Vatican, which continued to believe that he 
was too active in politics. 60 

At the end of February, Romero made his last retreat. He had 
planned to make the retreat in Guatemala but, given the explosive 
political climate, he decided not to leave the country. Accompanied 
by six other priests, he made the retreat in Planes de Renderos at the 
house of the Passionist Sisters. His notes from this retreat are avail- 
able to us. I find one passage, built on the Exercises, especially 

We have come to the meditations on the Reign of God and on the 
Following of Christ. Even "against my sensuality and against my 
carnal and human love," I make my oblation: "Eternal Lord of all 
things, I make my offering with your favor and help, before your 
infinite goodness, and before your glorious Mother and all the holy 
men and women of the heavenly court, that I wish and desire and 
that it is my deliberate decision, if only it be for your greater service 
and praise, to imitate you in suffering all injuries and all affronts and 
all poverty, both actual and spiritual, if your most holy Majesty 
desires to choose and receive me in such a life and state." Thus I 
make my consecration to the Heart of Jesus, who was always the 
source of inspiration and Christian joy in my life — I entrust to his 
loving providence all my life and I accept with faith in him my 
death, no matter how difficult it be. . . . To be happy and unafraid, it 
is enough to know surely that in him are my life and my death, that, 
in spite of my sins, in him I have put my trust and I shall not be put 
to shame, and others will carry on with greater wisdom and holiness 
the works of the church and of the nation. 61 

Romero's retreat notes go on to sketch a plan for reform of life and 
even the calendar for pastoral visits to various communities around 
the archdiocese. 

He didn't make many of those visits. On Sunday, March 23, he 
preached a homily which he entitled The Church in the Service of 
Liberation: Personal, Communal, Transcendent. One particular sentence 

59 Ibid., January 30, 1980. 

Urioste, Interview, December 7, 2002. 

"Spiritual Diary/' 49-51 (The Brockman Romero Papers), Also published in 
Revista de teologia latinoamericana no. 13 (January-April 1988): 3-12. 

18 ^ Douglas Marcouiller, S.J. 

in this long and complex homily is often quoted: "In the name of 
God, then, and in the name of this suffering people whose laments 
rise to heaven more tumultuously day by day, I ask you, I pray you, 
I order you in the name of God, halt the repression!" 62 The next day 
he met with a priest of Opus Dei. 63 He went to the Jesuit residence 
in Santa Tecla to speak with Segundo Azcue, S.J., his confessor. 64 He 
returned to the hospital where he lived to celebrate the evening 
Mass. At the conclusion of the homily, as Romero unfolded the 
corporal over the altar, he was shot dead. 65 

Thinking with the Local Church 

Romero identified with the local church as the body of Christ 
in history, committed to the truth and filled with compassion 
for the poor, sent to proclaim the good news. Romero 
poured himself into preaching the Kingdom and accepted the 
conflicts that arose from faithfulness to the Lord. For Romero sentir 
con la Iglesia meant to evangelize in the concrete circumstances of the 
archdiocese, exposing personal sin and sinful structures that pushed 
aside the poor, proclaiming and promoting the love and justice of 
the Reign of God, undeterred by repressive forces that served under 
another standard. 

Having already sketched the broad outlines of Romero's three 
years as archbishop, I'd like to go back now and fill in some stories 
that illustrate Romero's way of thinking with the local church. I'll 
structure these stories around three places important in Romero's 
ministry: the parish of Aguilares, the cathedral in San Salvador, and 
the hospital where Romero lived. 


Many people who knew Romero — although not all — speak of 
a change during his first months as archbishop, a change associated 
with the murder of Rutilio Grande, S.J. Ten years after Romero's 

62 Homilias, March 23, 1980. 


Brockman, Romero: A Life, 243. 


Azcue, Newsletter, April 1980. 

Testimony of Mother Luz de La Cueva, in La espiritualidad de Monsenor 
Romero (San Salvador: Fundacion Monsenor Romero, 2000), 121. 

An Archbishop with an Attitude ^> 19 

murder, Archbishop Arturo Rivera Damas wrote: 

I agree with those who speak of a "conversion" of Monsenor Rome- 
ro, in the moment in which he assumed the pastoral charge of the 
Archdiocese of San Salvador. . . . One martyr gave life to another 
martyr. Before the body of Father Rutilio Grande, Monsenor Romero, 
on his twentieth day as archbishop, felt the call of Christ to defeat 
his natural human timidity and to fill himself with the intrepidness 
of the apostle. From that moment, Monsenor Romero left the pagan 
territory of Tyre and Sidon and headed freely toward Jerusalem. 66 

Some background about Rutilio Grande and the Aguilares 
experience needs to be supplied here. Archbishop Luis Chavez, 
Romero's predecessor, gave pastoral responsibility for the parish of 
Aguilares to the Society of Jesus in 1972. The town of Aguilares itself 
was a commercial center. The surrounding area was given over to 
the cultivation of sugar cane. As everywhere in El Salvador, very 
large parcels of land surrounding Aguilares were held by very few 
people. The majority of the people were landless, poorly paid agri- 
cultural wage workers. 

The Jesuit pastoral team was headed by Rutilio Grande, a 
native of El Paisnal, one of the villages that belonged to the parish. 
Among the Jesuits of El Salvador, Rutilio stood out for his commit- 
ment to pastoral work and his 
close association with the diocesan 

clergy, whom he admired and For Romero sentir con la 

who admired him. During the Iglesia meant to evangelize 

1960s, he taught pastoral theology ( n the concrete circumstances 
and supervised field work at the f tne archdiocese. 

national seminary, then under the 

direction of the Society. In 1970 he ^^^~~^^^~^^^^^^^^~ 
left the seminary, spent a year at 

the Jesuit high school, and then took a sabbatical at the Latin 
American Pastoral Institute in Quito. 67 While in Quito he formulated 
his apostolic preference this way: "pastoral work as a member of a 

Rivera Damas, preface to Delgado, Biografia, 3. 


All this is from Rutilio Grande, Mdrtir de la Evangelization Rural, by Rodolfo 
Cardenal (San Salvador: UCA Editores, 1978), 20 ff. This source will hereafter be cited 
as Cardenal, Rutilio Grande. 

20 <v* Douglas Marcouiller, SJ. 

team, in a rural zone or a marginal urban area, oriented toward 
integral development rooted in Christian conscientization. ,/68 

In Aguilares the Jesuits spent nearly a year giving two-week 
missions in twenty-five different geographical sectors of the parish. 
They spent the day talking with people and visiting families, the 
afternoon leading catechesis for the children, and the evening 
meeting with adults. In their meetings, adults would read a gospel 

passage several times, then discuss 
^ — — its implications. From among the 

It wasn't necessary to tell the na ^ ral lead , er , S who emer S ed ' W 

campesinos that they were Delegates of the Word were com- 

, i .1 • missioned to continue the meet- 

oppressea or who their , . . 

rr n AT Af . ines and to maintain the be be- 

oppressors were. Both things m_ » •_ .*■ 

, r j tween the small base communities 

y ' and the rest of the parish. By the 

.^__^_______^__ end of this ''mission" phase, 

marked by a huge liturgy on the 
feast of Pentecost, 1973, the parish had thirty-seven organized 
communities and some three hundred Delegates of the Word. 
Members grew in confidence, in unity, in familiarity with the Scrip- 
ture and in ability to read their own situation in its light. 69 

The second phase of the pastoral experience in Aguilares had 
two principal thrusts. The first was to revitalize sacramental life, 
spurring people to more active participation and to greater responsi- 
bility. Some of this effort focused on the Eucharist, some of it on 
baptism. The other major thrust of the team's work was to accom- 
pany the Delegates personally as they grew in faith. In this process, 
some Delegates chose to join organizations not directly linked to the 
parish, particularly the Christian Federation of Salvadoran Peasants 
(Federation Cristiana de Campesinos Salvadorenos, FECCAS). 70 "It 
wasn't necessary to tell the campesinos that they were oppressed or 
who their oppressors were. Both things were clearly seen. They 
came to understand perfectly well that the Gospel, far from exhort- 

Quoted in Historia de una esperanza: Vida de Rutilio Grande, by Rodolfo 
Cardenal, 3rd ed. (San Salvador: UCA Editores, 2002), 207. This source will hereafter 
be cited as Cardenal, Historia. 


Cardenal, Rutilio Grande, 72. 


The definitive discussion of the relation between FECCAS and the parish is 
given in Cardenal, Historia, 433-509. 

An Archbishop with an Attitude O 21 

ing them to resignation, asked them to fight against the oppres- 
sion/ 771 

What did this mean concretely? An example may help. On 
May 23, 1973, at the end of the sugar harvest, the administrator of 
La Cabana Sugar Mill refused to pay in full the wage that had been 
orally agreed upon. Over fifteen hundred workers then refused to 
accept the incomplete payment. Whether because of the workers' 
number, their unity, or the implicit threat of their cane-cutting 
knives, the "strike" was successfully resolved. 72 The pastoral team 
certainly did not organize this protest, but among the strikers were 
Delegates of the Word. 

The pastoral plan had the complete support of Archbishop 
Chavez but, understandably, not the support of the local landown- 
ers. United, vocal peasant commu- 
nities were not part of the land- ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ 
owners' plan, especially not com- 
munities with the freedom and £ ^« ™ <*" atmosphere of 
confidence of people inspired by ideological ferment and 
the Word of God. Refusing to ac- political tension, to murder 
knowledge the long-standing a priest had seemed 
problem of "institutionalized vio- unthinkable. 
lence," the landlords claimed in- 
stead that the parish was creating ~~ ~"~~ "" — — 
a new problem. 73 The Word of God was being manipulated and the 
liturgy politicized, they said, by abusive priests and a permissive 
archbishop, Archbishop Chavez. Tension mounted. 

Father Mario Bernal, pastor of the neighboring parish of 
Apopa, was expelled from the country on January 29, 1977. 74 Catho- 
lics from other parishes joined the Apopa community for Mass on 
February 13, and Grande preached the homily. God created the 


Cardenal, Rutilio Grande, 80. 
Cardenal, Historia, 276 ff. 


The term "institutionalized violence" comes from the Medellin Document on 
Peace, no. 16. In their third pastoral letter, Romero and Rivera Damas describe this 
institutionalized violence as "the product of an unjust situation in which the majority 
of men and women — above all, the majority of children — in our country find 
themselves denied what is necessary to live" ("Iglesia y Organizaciones Politicas 
Populares/' in La voz de los sin voz [San Salvador: UCA Editores, 1980], 114). 

Cardenal, Historia, 546. 

22 <> Douglas Marcouiller, S.J. 

material world for all of us, he said. The material world is like the 
table of the Eucharist, a common table, beautifully adorned, with 
room for everyone to pull up a chair. Jesus used a supper to signify 
his Reign. "He talked a lot about a supper. And he celebrated it the 
night before his total commitment. Thirty-three years old, he cele- 
brated a farewell dinner with his most intimate friends, and he said 
that was the great memorial of the Redemption. A table shared as a 
family, where everyone has a place. ,/75 

A month later, March 12, Grande drove with some friends 
toward El Paisnal for a Saturday afternoon Eucharist in a nine-day 
celebration leading up to the March 19 solemnity of St. Joseph, 
patron of El Paisnal. The car was ambushed. Rutilio and two com- 
panions, seventy-two-year-old Manuel Solorzano and fifteen-year-old 
Nelson Rutilio Lemus, were shot dead. 76 

In light of what happened later, it is difficult now to recover 
the sense of shock that hit the Salvadoran church after this first of 
many murders of priests. Even in an atmosphere of ideological 
ferment and political tension, to murder a priest had seemed un- 

Romero had been archbishop for three weeks. Shortly after the 
crime was committed, probably within the hour, Romero received a 
telephone call from Gen. Armando Molina, president of El Salvador, 
expressing his condolences. 

Monserior Romero thanked President Molina, interpreting his call as 
a gesture of friendship. But when he received the first bits of evi- 
dence about the assassination, that it had been committed by men 
using arms and ammunition of a caliber that only the state security 
forces used, deep indignation touched his heart. The phone call from 
his "friend" Molina began to seem raw cynicism. 77 

That evening Romero and Rivera Damas drove to the parish 
church of Aguilares to join the hundreds of campesinos and clerics 
who were praying by the bodies of the three victims. Romero and 
Grande had been friends; Grande had served as master of ceremo- 
nies at Romero's episcopal ordination. Now Romero stood before 
Rutilio's bullet-ridden body and those of an old man and a young 

Orientation, March 27, 1977, 4. 
Cardenal, Historia, 572. 


Delgado, Biografia, 76. 

An Archbishop with an Attitude <> 23 

boy, stretched out on tables placed before the altar. They celebrated 
the Eucharist. After the liturgy, well after midnight, in an atmo- 
sphere charged with anger, grief, and fear, Romero asked some 
people to stay and talk with him. He asked them what to do. Jon 
Sobrino was there. "I felt great affection for that humble bishop who 
asked for help, almost begged for help, to carry the burden that was 
being laid upon him, far beyond what his shoulders or anyone else's 
could bear." 78 Sobrino continues: 

Certainly, he was nervous; but in the midst of the nervousness and 
the not knowing what to do in those first moments, I believe that 
Monsenor Romero made a deep commitment to act however God 
would ask him to act; he made a true option for the poor, repre- 
sented that night by hundreds of poor campesinos around three 
bodies, defenseless before the repression that they now suffered and 
the repression that they foresaw. I don't know whether I interpret 
well what passed in those moments through the heart of Monsenor 
Romero, but I believe that he must have experienced that those 
campesinos had made an option for him, that they were asking him to 
defend them. And the answer Monsenor Romero gave was to make 
an option for the campesinos, to become their defender, to become the 
voice of the voiceless. (17) 

This is the moment sometimes called Romero's conversion, although 
Romero himself disliked that expression. He wrote instead of 

an evolution of the same desire that I have always had to be faithful 
to what God asks of me; and if earlier I gave the impression of being 
more "prudent" and more "spiritual," it was because I sincerely 
believed that in that way I responded to the Gospel, because the 
circumstances of my ministry were not as demanding as those when 
I became archbishop. 79 

I wonder whether one might interpret what happened to 
Romero, in the light of his motto, as a deepening of his sense of the 
concrete historical Catholic community in Aguilares. He shared the 
grief and fear of the people with whom he celebrated the Eucharist 
that night, and he heard the call of the "hundreds of campesinos who 
with their eyes on him wordlessly asked what he was going to do." 8 
Over the next three months, Romero gave his answer. 


Jon Sobrino, Monsenor Romero, 4th ed. (San Salvador: UCA Editores, 1997), 16. 


Letter to Baggio, June 24, 1978 (The Brockman Romero Papers). 
Sobrino, Monsenor Romero, 17. 

24 <0> Douglas Marcouiller, S.J. 

The funeral Mass for the three slain men was held at the 
cathedral in San Salvador on March 14. The nuncio presided and 
Romero preached. He acknowledged his own close friendship with 
Grande, but continued, 'This is not the moment to think of personal 

things, but rather the moment to 
— — — ^— — - ™-"- recover from that body a message 

With the nearly unanimous for a11 of us who are sti11 on P n " 

support of the clergy, grimage. ,, Citing Paul VI, Romero 

however, Romero refused said that the Church offers to the 

to retreat. universal struggle for liberation 

men and women inspired by faith, 
^— — ^— ^^^^^^^^— informed by the social doctrine of 

the Church, and motivated by 
love. 81 He spoke of the unity of the Church and of its mission. "We 
are a pilgrim Church, exposed to misunderstanding, exposed to 
persecution, but a Church that walks on calmly because it carries the 
force of love" (ibid.). 

I don't know why the nuncio presided instead of the arch- 
bishop. I do know that Romero began his homily with a greeting to 
"the most excellent representative of His Holiness, the Pope' 7 (ibid.). 
Perhaps this reflects devotion to the Holy See, which Romero ap- 
pears to have maintained throughout his life, or perhaps it reflects 
his friendship with the nuncio, which would end within the week. 

Two decisions were taken by the archdiocese in the days 
following Grande's death. The first was the decision not to partici- 
pate in any government-sponsored ceremony until the government 
committed itself "to shine the light of justice" on the murders. 82 The 
nuncio would complain about this later, when Romero refused to 
attend the presidential inauguration on July 1. 

The second decision caused an immediate problem with the 
nuncio. After widespread consultation, Romero decided that a single 
Mass would be celebrated in the archdiocese on Sunday, March 20, 
in the plaza in front of the cathedral. Everyone in the archdiocese 
would be invited to share in that misa unica. All the priests would be 
asked to concelebrate. A sign and source of unity, it would also be a 

Homilias, March 14, 1977. Romero is here citing no. 38 of Evangelii nuntiandi, 
Paul VI's letter of December 8, 1975. 


Cardenal, Historia, 581. 

An Archbishop with an Attitude <& 25 

particular act of solidarity with the parishes that had lost their 
priests. The decision was announced on March 15. Powerful business 
leaders visited the archbishop to protest the decision. 83 On March 17 
Romero was summoned to the nunciature to receive a reprimand 
from the nuncio, who repeated many of the arguments originally 
proposed by the business people. With the nearly unanimous sup- 
port of the clergy, however, Romero refused to retreat. He visited 
the nunciature again on March 18, asking Jon Sobrino and a few 
others to accompany him. Sobrino picks up the story: 

The nuncio was not in, and we were received by his secretary. From 
the beginning I saw the secretary to be visibly angry. . . . The secre- 
tary began by saying that the pastoral and theological arguments in 
favor of the single Mass were good; I think that he said "very good." 
. . . "But," he added, "you have forgotten the most important thing." 
I couldn't imagine what could be more important in those moments, 
but the secretary declared: "You have forgotten the canonical dimen- 
sion." 84 

The issue was whether or not the archbishop had the authority to 
dispense those people unable to come to the cathedral from the 
obligation of Sunday Mass. 

The chasm that was opening between the archdiocese and the 
nunciature can be seen in Sobrino's response: "I answered him that 
nothing is more important than 
the Body of Christ which was be- 
ing bled dry in this country." 85 In It is not politics when a 
James Brockman's words, "the dis- homily points to political, 
cussion continued but did not ad- social, and economic sins. 
vance." 86 In the words of Jesus 
Delgado, a participant in both 

meetings, "Monserior Romero found himself faced with a choice: to 
continue to please the nuncio, whose reactions were informed by the 
reactionary sector of Salvadoran society, or to support his clergy, 
whose concerns were those of the suffering people." 87 


A detailed account of the meeting can be found ibid., 590-591. 


Sobrino, Monacfior Romero, 27. 

B5 ibid. 


Brockman, Romero: A Life, 27. 


Delgado, Bio^rajia, 83. 

26 ^ Douglas Marcouiller, S.J. 

Thinking with the Church in what may have been a new way, 
Romero opted for unity with the priests and with the mayorias 
populares, the poor majority of the people. The single Mass was 
celebrated, with the participation of 100,000 people, including virtu- 
ally all the priests of the archdiocese, leaving a tremendous sense of 
hope in the assembly. 88 During the homily, defending the preaching 
of his much maligned pastoral workers, Romero said: 

You may be sure, brothers and sisters, that the evangelical line which 
the archdiocese is following is authentic. . . . That is the significance 
of today, the authorization by the bishop, authentic teacher of the 
faith, so that all those who are in communion with him may know 
that they preach a doctrine which is in communion with the pope 
and, therefore, the true doctrine of our Lord Jesus Christ. 89 

For Romero, tension with the nuncio was not the same thing as 
tension with the Pope. 

The Salvadoran army occupied Aguilares on May 19. They 
searched house by house and beat people found with church publi- 
cations. Fifty civilians were killed, among them the sacristan who 
had climbed the bell tower to sound an alarm. Many more were 
taken away. The three Jesuits remaining in the parish, Salvador 
Carranza, Jose Luis Ortega, and Marcelino Perez, were expelled from 
the country. The church building was turned into a barracks, "the 
base for repressive operations, ,, Romero called it in a letter to Cardi- 
nal Jean Villot. 90 Romero himself was refused permission to remove 
the Blessed Sacrament, which was found scattered across the floor 
beneath a tabernacle blown open by gunfire. 91 

Romero returned to Aguilares one month later, on June 19. 
That day he responded most clearly to those who in March had 
"wordlessly asked what he was going to do." He reopened the 
church building and presented the new pastoral team of three 
women religious, Oblates of the Sacred Heart. Romero's preaching 
that day revealed a deep sense of the local church, the Catholic 
community in Aguilares. He feels with the Church: "We are with 
you. . . . We suffer with those who have suffered so much. . . . You 

Ibid., 82. Cardenal, Historia, 592. 
89 Homilias, March 20, 1977. 

Letter to Villot, December 12, 1977 (The Brockman Romero Papers). 


This description is from Cardenal, Historia, 597. 

An Archbishop with an Attitude <> 27 

are the image of the Divine One who was pierced. ... so many 
loved ones murdered. We suffer with those who are lost, with those 
whose whereabouts are unknown, with those who are fleeing. . . . 
We are with those who suffer torture. We know that many are at 
home now still suffering those pains, those humiliations. " He judges 
with the Church. 

Jesus Christ has told us today in his Gospel that the one who would 
come after him must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow him. 
. . . Brothers and sisters, I think that we have mutilated the Gospel. 
We have tried to live a very comfortable Gospel, without handing 
over our lives. Just piety. Just a Gospel that makes us happy. But 
here in Aguilares there is beginning a bold movement of a more 
committed Gospel ... a very serious commitment to Christ crucified. 

He thinks, critically, with the Church. "Do not confuse the liberation 
of Christ with false liberations that are merely temporal. " And he 
prays with the Church: "We feel our heart so small, but Christ loans 
us his, so that with one heart on 

the altar, all of our hearts, we may ^^^^^^^^— ^^^^^^^^— 
unite to give glory to God to give "Finally, [let us have] 

thanks for our lives, to offer par- fl committed nce as 

don to our enemies and to pray ^ . .. . . . . 

. . r e . , Christians in a society in 

for the forgiveness of our sins and 7 . 7 . , T ,. 

tl _ P . „ 92 which we must be heralds 

the sins of our people. t A , _ . - ^ - „ 

r r of the Reign of God. 

A few months later, when 
the clergy of the archdiocese felt -^^"^~^^~^^~^^^^^~— 
compelled to write in support of 

the archbishop, they entitled their statement, "To Touch the Arch- 
bishop is to Touch the Heart of the Church." Sl Sentir con la Iglesia, 

The Cathedral 

The misa unica after the murder of Rutilio Grande was one of 
many celebrations that showed the cathedral to be a place of en- 
counter, drawing together the members of the church and reaching 
out to people who no longer believed. The cathedral was also a 


Homilias, June 19, 1977, delivered in Aguilares, 97-102. 


Orientation, January 22, 1978. 

28 ♦ Douglas Marcouiller, S J. 

place of refuge, again and again sheltering people fleeing the vio- 
lence of government agents on the streets. It was a symbol often 
occupied, over the archbishop's protest, by political organizations 
that saw it as the heart of the life of the city. Above all, it was the 
place of the bishop's cathedra, the place of his preaching and teach- 
ing, the place where Romero gave voice to the voiceless. 

Romero's Sunday homilies were long — sometimes two hours 
long — and explicit. 94 Over and over again, Romero showed how to 
read the events of the past week in the light of the Sunday Scrip- 
tures. In 1978 Romero wrote to Cardinal Baggio: 

From March 1977 until now, the 8 A.M. Sunday Mass in the cathedral 
has given me the occasion to bring the Gospel close to the life of the 
people of my diocese. With the cathedral filled Sunday after Sunday, 
and with the Mass also broadcast by the Catholic radio, I have 
explained the Gospel, working so that the Word of God might never 
be chained [2 Tim. 2:9] and so that this Sunday encounter with the 
archdiocese might be a breath of hope for those who suffer in their 
material circumstances and in their spiritual dignity as human beings 
and children of God. I have maintained a continuous call to conver- 
sion and testified that "there is nothing truly human that fails to find 
an echo in the heart of the Church. " H5 

The purpose of the homily, Romero once said, is "to incarnate in the 
people the Word of God. It is not politics when a homily points to 
political, social, and' economic sins. It is the Word of God taking flesh 
in our reality, a reality that many times reflects sin rather than the 
Reign of God, to show people the path of redemption." 96 

In the homily of December 3, 1978, Romero offered another 
description of what he was doing as a preacher. That First Sunday of 
Advent marked the beginning of the Lectionary's year of readings 
from the Gospel of Mark. Romero recalled the second-century 
testimony of Papias about Mark's Gospel. 

He says that a presbyter used to tell them, "When Mark acted as 
interpreter of Peter, he wrote carefully but without order all that 
Peter remembered of what the Lord did and said." Then Papias 


Diario pastoral, February 10, 1980. 

Letter of May 21, 197H (The Brockman Romero Papers), quoting from 
'Gaudium et spes," no. 1, in DocsVatll (p. 903). 

^Homilias, November 11, 1979. 

An Archbishop with an Attitude 0- 29 

comments on his own, "Peter used to adapt his teaching to the 
needs of the moment without establishing an order in the sayings of 
the Lord." . . . And so we will have as our text this year the example 
of the first pope, St. Peter, speaking of the Gospel and of Christ not 
as an ordered theory but in a living practice that sheds light on the 
realities of El Salvador, week by week. 97 

Romero's homily that Advent Sunday continued with a long 
scriptural reflection exhorting to wakefulness and hunger for God. It 
moved on to the events of the week, explaining a new policy linking 
catechesis to the celebration of confirmation and marriage, then 
inviting people to the celebration of the feast of the Immaculate 
Conception and to a novena of Masses for a man who had been 
killed by the state security forces earlier in the week. Romero read a 
letter from a couple whose son had been missing for three years; an 
escaped prisoner testified that the boy was being held by the gov- 
ernment. And on and on, finishing with a reflection on the death of 
Father Ernesto Barrera, allegedly in a shoot-out between government 
forces and leftist guerrillas. Romero concluded his homily thus: 

I invite you to enter into Advent, in this spiritual preparation for 
Christmas, with the sense of which I have spoken: hunger for God, 
poverty of spirit, awareness of our need for God. Let us stay awake, 
attentive to the presence of Christ in the poor one, in our friend, in 
the brother or sister, so as not to treat them as we would not treat 
Christ. Finally, [let us have] a committed presence as Christians in a 
society in which we must be heralds of the Reign of God. 98 

This homily is typical. In all the homilies of his three years as 
archbishop, delivered from brief notes but recorded and now pub- 
lished in eight volumes, Romero did precisely what he asked the 
base communities to do: to allow the Lord to be present through the 
Word, calling to conversion and building their faith. The difference, 
in Romero's case, was the national and even international range of 
his voice. The bombing of the archdiocesan radio transmitter by 
right-wing forces in February 1980 is testimony to the impact of the 
homilies. One of the first things Romero did at the end of his Febru- 
ary retreat was to visit the site of the transmitter, where he found 
Phil Pick, S.J., of the Wisconsin Province ''working like any day 

97 Ibid., December 3, 1978. 

98 Ibid. 

30 <0> Douglas Marcouiller, S.J. 

laborer to remove the rubble left by the bomb."" In his last Sunday 
homily, the day before he died, Romero offered special thanks to 
Father Pick. 100 

Romero's preaching made people uncomfortable. That didn't 

surprise him. The church is salt for the world. If one puts a healthy 

hand into salty water, nothing 

. happens; but a wounded hand in 

r .. . x7 x7 salty water stines. 101 If one turns 

In its encounter with the i- i_* i i i 

T , r aT aI „ f , on a light where people are sleep- 

world of the poor, the Church ,, ° .„ , r u r 

,. , \ . mg, they will wake up, but per- 

discovered anew the pressing . nQt h n 102 

need for conversion. It 

encountered its own sins and If the h ° mili es did not pres- 

the sins of the world, ent " an , ° rdered , * eor y'" Romero's 

, • , . . , . pastoral letters did. He issued four 

personal sins and structural sin. \ , ,, ,. . 

letters, one shortly after becoming 

_^____— archbishop, and another each year 

on the occasion of the patronal 
feast of the Archdiocese of San Salvador, the Transfiguration. The 
letters again show Romero thinking with the Church. They draw 
together the Scriptures, conciliar documents, the faith of the people, 
and the details of their day-to-day human experience. Several of the 
letters were preceded by widespread consultation; all of them of- 
fered specific pastoral guidelines. 

The first letter, The Paschal Church, was dated Easter Sunday, 
April 10, 1977. "Beloved brothers, sisters, friends. We have lived 
through a Lent that was a way of the cross, and a Good Friday that 
has come to full flower in this bright and hopeful hour of the Easter 
of resurrection." 103 Now it was time to recall that "the Church does 
not live for itself, but in order to bring to the world the truth and 
grace of Easter" (54). In a phrase, "The Church is the Body of the 
risen Christ" (57). 


Diario pastoral, Feb. 26, 1980. 

100 Homilias, March 23, 1980. 

101 Ibid., May 29, 1977. 

102 Ibid., Jan. 22, 1978. 

1 no 

The original texts of the letters are in La voz de los sin voz. In this section of 
the paper, I will use the English translations found in Voice of the Voiceless (Maryknoll: 
Orbis, 1985). This citation is from "The Easter Church," p. 61. 

An Archbishop with an Attitude <0> 31 

The second letter, The Church, the Body of Christ in History, 
developed this theme. Drawing on Lumen gentium and Gaudium et 
spes, the letter set out the ecclesiology underlying the pastoral 
practice of the archdiocese. The Church is a body of men and 
women who belong to God, but who live as the sacrament of salva- 
tion in and for the world. 'The Church is the flesh in which Christ 
makes present down through the ages his own life and his personal 
mission/' 104 Therefore, the Church's mission is authentic "only so 
long as it is the mission of Jesus in the new situations, the new 
circumstances, of history" (ibid.). 

The criterion that will guide the Church will be neither the approval 
of, nor the fear of, men and women, no matter how powerful or 
threatening they may be. It is the Church's duty in history to lend its 
voice to Christ so that he may speak, its feet so that he may walk 
today's world, its hands to build the kingdom, and to offer all its 
members "to make up all that has still to be undergone by Christ." 
(ibid., quoting from Col. 1:24). 

In its encounter with the world of the poor, the church discov- 
ered anew the pressing need for conversion. It encountered its own 
sins and the sins of the world, personal sins and structural sin. 
Proclaiming the Kingdom of God in a particular time and place, the 
church has "the pressing duty of publicizing and promoting the 
means that seem best able to help toward the partial realization of 
the kingdom. . . . Just as injustice takes concrete forms, the promo- 
tion of justice must take concrete forms" (74, 75). The Salvadoran 
Church was persecuted, Romero wrote, precisely because of its 
faithfulness to the Gospel. 

The church is respected, praised, even granted privileges so long as it 
preaches eternal salvation and does not involve itself in the real 
problems of our world. But if the church is faithful to its mission of 
denouncing the sin that brings misery to many, if it proclaims its 
hope for a more just, humane world, then it is persecuted and 
calumniated, it is branded as subversive and Communist. (80) 

The second letter ends with a call for unity in the church, based on 
fidelity to the demands of Jesus Christ and cemented by common 

"The Church, The Body of Christ in History/' in Voiceless, 70. 

32 <♦> Douglas Marcouiller, S.J. 

Therefore I once again appeal for the unity of all Catholics. It is 
something for which I have a keen desire. But we cannot, as the 
price of this unity, abandon our mission. Let us remember that what 
divides us is not the action of the church but the sin of the world — 
and the sin of our society. What has happened in our archdiocese is 
what always happens in the church when it is faithful to its mission. 
When the church enters into the world of sin to liberate and save it, 
the sin of the world enters into the church and divides it. (81) 

The third pastoral letter was even more concrete than the first 
two. Issued jointly by Romero and Bishop Arturo Rivera Damas, 
then bishop of Santiago de Maria, for the feast of the Transfiguration 
in 1978, the letter had as its title and theme The Church and the 
Popular Political Organizations. The phrase "popular organizations" or 
"people's organizations," used in El Salvador to describe grass-roots 
associations of peasants or workers, most often designates organiza- 
tions of the Left. 

As noted above, the pastoral strategy of the archdiocese 
included support for ecclesial base communities, described in this 
letter as 

organized communities that arise around the Word of God, a Word 
that brings persons together, makes them aware, and makes de- 
mands upon them, and around the Eucharist and other sacramental 
signs, to celebrate the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, celebrat- 
ing at the same time our human effort to open ourselves to the gift 
of a greater humanity. 105 

The Word of God awakened in some members of these communities 

a political vocation. "This is where the problem arises: faith and 

politics ought to be united in a 

_^^«^^__^_^_^_^_ Christian who has a political voca- 

it . ii ^i • .. i tion, but they are not to be identi- 
Not all Christians have a ,„ /innx ~ u ..* •.. 

,. . f . . f ned (100). Christians with a pohh- 

political vocation; those who ca , vQcation fa „ Mq ejther of 

do not must struggle tWQ t . „ [T]hey can substitute 

for justice in other ways. for the demands of the faith and 

^^^^^_^^_^^_^^^^^_ Christian justice the demands of a 

particular political organization, or 
they can assert that only within a particular organization can one 
develop the requirements of Christian justice that spring from the 

"The Church and Popular Political Organizations/' in Voiceless, 96. 

An Archbishop with an Attitude <? 33 

faith" (100). Not all members of the popular organizations are Chris- 
tians; those who are Christians must profess their faith in solidarity 
with the Church. Not all Christians have a political vocation; those 
who do not must struggle for justice in other ways. 

Some of the popular organizations had by this time developed 
military capability. The letter clearly condemned the institutionalized 
violence of an unjust society, the repressive violence of the state, 
terrorist violence, and spontaneous violence, but it admitted the 
possibility of legitimate defense against "an imminent, serious, and 
unjust threat" (107) when proportionate violence is a last resort 
which will not "bring about a greater evil than that of the aggres- 
sion" (105). 

From the point of view of thinking with the Church, one more 
paragraph of this third letter deserves quotation: 

We are well aware that, despite our intentions and all our efforts to 
provide adequate guidance to the political dimension of the faith of 
our brothers and sisters, especially of the rural population, there are 
still many questions waiting to be answered. We must do it together, 
pastors and people of God, never separated from our union in 
Christ. We must do it in the light of our faith and of the social 
situation of our country. (105) 

That is exactly what Romero did in writing his last pastoral 
letter, entitled The Church's Mission and the National Crisis and issued 
for the feast of the Transfiguration in 1979. In developing his theme, 
Romero drew on Vatican II, the papal Magisterium, and the docu- 
ments of the Puebla conference of the Latin American bishops, held 
earlier that year. He also recalled the words of Lumen gentium, that 
"the holy people of God shares also in Christ's prophetic office . . . 
under the guidance of the sacred teaching authority." He continued: 

Taking account of the charism of dialog and consultation, I wanted 
to prepare for this pastoral letter by undertaking a survey of my 
beloved priests and of the basic ecclesial communities of the archdio- 
cese. I have been struck yet again by the maturity of the reflection, 
by the evangelical spirit, by the pastoral creativity, by the social and 
political sensibility expressed in the large number of replies. . . . 
Notwithstanding their occasional inaccuracies or doctrinal and 
pastoral impetuosity, they have served to stimulate that charism of 

34 ^ Douglas Marcouiller, SJ. 

teaching and of discernment with which the Lord has entrusted 

me. 106 

The survey pointed to a crisis within the nation — infant mortality, 
malnutrition, unemployment, starvation wages, housing shortages, 
moral deterioration in public administration and in private life, 
political exclusion, repressive violence. It pointed also to a crisis 
within the church — disunity, resistance to renewal on one hand or, 
on the other, political and ideological adulteration of the faith. 
Division within the church reflected the division within society; 
unity within the church would come from adherence to Puebla's 
"preferential option for the poor" (125). The church must unite to 
denounce sin and to unmask idolatry, whether in the form of the 
absolutization of wealth and private property, the absolutization of 
national security, or the absolutization of popular organizations. The 
Church must unite to promote integral human liberation. Here we 
find again, I think, the importance of thinking with the Church. 
Romero was clearly worried about those pastoral agents who fol- 
lowed a different approach than the one he delineated. 

We must never think of the various responses to which one single 
Spirit gives rise as being at odds with one another. They have to be 
seen as complementary, and all beneath the watchful overview of 
the bishop, the person responsible for the apostolate in the diocese. 
Let us remember that the apostolate ought to be a joint response, 
and if it is not, then it is neither a pastoral response nor a response 
of the church. (151) 

On the other hand, 

I believe that the bishop always has much to learn from his people; 
and that in the charisms which the Spirit gives to the people, the 
bishop encounters the touchstone of his humility and authenticity. I 
want to thank all those who, when they are not in agreement with 
the bishop, have the courage to dialog with him and to convince him 
of his error, or to be convinced of their own. 107 

Finally, to think with the Church is not to think with what 
Romero sometimes called "the powers of this world": the president, 
the Supreme Court, the security forces, the captains of industry. He 
criticized with great freedom those who idolized wealth. He criti- 


"The Church's Mission amid the National Crisis," in Voiceless, 117. 
W7 Homilias, September 9, 1979. 

An Archbishop with an Attitude <& 35 

cized with equal freedom those who absolutized political organiza- 

Urioste says that Romero spoke the truth with great tranquil- 
ity, as though it came naturally to him. A passage in a letter Romero 
wrote to Cardinal Baggio suggests that it wasn't always easy: 

I have tried to proclaim the true Faith without divorcing it from life, 
to offer the rich treasury of the Magisterium in its totality to all 
people, and to keep strong the unity of the Church, represented in 
the Roman Pontiff. For many years my motto has been "Sentir con la 
Iglesia." It always will be. Many times I have said to myself: How 
hard it is to want to be completely faithful to what the Church 
proclaims in its Magisterium, and how easy, on the other hand, to 
forget or leave aside certain aspects. The first brings with it much 
suffering; the second brings security and tranquility and eliminates 
problems. The former provokes accusations and scorn; the latter 
praise and flattery. But I have been confirmed by what the Magisteri- 
um, through the council, says to the bishops: "Bishops should pres- 
ent the doctrine of Christ in a manner suited to the needs of the 
times, that is, so it may respond to the needs and problems that 
people find especially worrying and burdensome. They should also 
care for this doctrine, teaching the faithful themselves to defend it 
and propagate it. In presenting this doctrine bishops should proclaim 
the maternal solicitude of the Church for all people, whether they be 
among the faithful or not, and should devote special care to the 
poor, to whom they have been sent by the Lord to give the good 
news." 108 

At his cathedra, Archbishop Romero showed his way to sentir con la 

"The Little Hospital" 

Romero lived at what everyone called the "hospitalito," the 
little hospital. The hospitalito was and still is a modest 120-bed 
medical facility established by the Carmelite Missionaries of Saint 
Teresa to care for indigent, terminally ill cancer patients. Romero 
lived in a single room behind the hospital's chapel until the sisters 
presented him with the keys to a three-room house on the grounds 
as a present for his birthday in 1977. He was the sisters' chaplain, 


Letter to Baggio, June 24, 1978 (The Brockman Romero Papers). For the 
quotation from "Christus Dominus," see DocsVatll, 570, no. 13. 

36 ♦ Douglas Marcouiller, S.J. 

celebrating Morning Prayer and the Eucharist with them each day 
and also sharing meals with them. 109 The hospitalito is an important 
place in Romero's ministry and he was killed at the altar of its 

The hospitalito was a place of intimate dialog. In a review of 
the Diario pastoral Rodolfo Cardenal notes that Romero met with 
campesinos and workers, victims of repression, bishops and priests, 
students and university people, members of the popular organiza- 
tions and members of the security forces, politicians and civil ser- 
vants, members of the oligarchy, diplomats, representatives of 
international agencies, and journalists. 110 Many of these meetings 
took place in the offices of the archdiocese, but some of them took 
place at the hospitalito. Romero met there, often over breakfast, with 
his closest advisors, and he occasionally met there at night with 
people who did not wish to be seen talking with him. Very few 
people were invited to stay overnight. One of these was Cardinal 
Aloisio Lorscheider of Brazil, who, after being offered a room at the 
nunciature, opted to stay in Romero's small guest room instead, 
saying, "This way I show that I am with you." 111 

Romero prepared his homilies at "the little hospital." He met 
with advisors, including Rafael Moreno, S.J., to go over the events of 
the week; then he went to his room. There he prepared the notes 
that would keep him on track as he preached. 

He prepared his homilies with great dedication. ... [In the pulpit] 
Romero was transformed. He was, I think, captured by the Spirit. 
Monserior was a bit timid. In conversations in informal groups he 
hardly said anything at all. . . . But when he got to the pulpit he was 
another man, completely different. He didn't hold back but said 
whatever he believed God wanted him to say, whatever he found by 
consulting with God. 112 

The hospitalito was a place of asceticism; a discipline and 
catena, devices once commonly used for mortification, were found in 


Brockman, Romero: A Life. 90 f . 

Rodolfo Cardenal, "En fidelidad al evangelio y al pueblo salvadoreno: El 
diario pastoral de Mons. Oscar A. Romero," Revista latinoamericana de teologia, no. 4 
January-April, 1985). 

Diario pastoral, December 31, 1979. 

""Urioste, Interview, December 7, 2002. 

An Archbishop with an Attitude -<> 37 

Romero's bedside table after his death. 113 The hospitalito was also a 
place of prayer, of "consulting with God." Many people report 
finding Romero in solitary prayer in the chapel. One such story is 
told by the vicar general, Ricardo Urioste. Romero had left some 
important visitors waiting for him. 

After a while I was embarrassed, because those people where there 
to see him, not me, and while they talked to each other, I got up 
and went to find Monsenor Romero. ... I went to his apartment, 
and he was not there. I went to the sisters' parlor, next to the chapel, 
but he wasn't there either. I passed through the kitchen, thinking 
that he might be drinking a cup of coffee, but he wasn't there. . . . 
[I]t occurred to me to pass by the chapel. I went in, and Monsenor 
Romero was in the third row, kneeling before the tabernacle. ... He 
was immersed in prayer before the crucifix and the Blessed Sacra- 
ment, which was exposed. I went up to him and said, "Monsenor, 
those people are waiting for you." His answer was, "Fine, let them 
wait." I imagine that Monsenor Romero had gone to ask how he 
ought to respond to those people. . . . Then I thought, "Monsenor 
Romero never said anything, never did anything without first con- 
sulting with God." 114 

Urioste continues: 

You know well that it has been said that Monsenor Romero was 
manipulated — by the Left, by a small group of priests, by the Jesuits. 
When delegations came to El Salvador or when I met them outside 
the country and they asked me, "Look, is it true that Monsenor 
Romero was manipulated?" I always answered that, yes, Monsenor 
Romero was manipulated; he was manipulated by God, who made 
him do and say whatever God wanted! (ibid.) 

This testimony is consistent with what Romero himself said 
and wrote. To Cardinal Baggio he wrote in 1978 of a constant desire 
"to be faithful to what God asks of me," and he found light for that 
discernment in prayer. 115 During the homily of March 2, 1980, three 
weeks before he was killed, Romero said this: 

Yesterday, when a journalist asked me where I find my inspiration 
for my work and my preaching, I replied: "That is a timely question, 
because I've just finished my Spiritual Exercises. If it were not for this 

i,3 ibid. 

Jose Ricardo Urioste, "Su sentir con la Iglesia," in La espiritualidad, 62 f. 
Letter to Baggio, June 24, 1978 (The Brockman Romero Papers). 

38 <$> Douglas Marcouiller, SJ. 

prayer and this reflection in which I try to stay united with God, I 
would be no more, as St. Paul says, than a clanging cymbal." 116 

All the witnesses, even those who disliked Romero, agree that 
he was a man of deep prayer. Sobrino, however, warns against a 
possible misunderstanding. The world of the spirit is not opposed to 
the world of history. "Undoubtedly, Monsenor Romero had an 
intimate relation with God, the great Invisible One, but that did not 
lead him to confuse the world of spirituality with the world of the 
invisible. Rather, it carried him to extraordinarily deep and radical 
incarnation in the reality of El Salvador." 117 

Intimacy with God and engagement in history may perhaps 
be symbolized by the chapel of "the little hospital." By all accounts, 
the chapel was a place of intimate dialog with God. It was also the 
place in which Romero's testimony of faith and defense of the poor 
were sealed by martyrdom. 

To think, to feel, to act as the Body of Christ in the specific 
circumstances of a quarter century ago, denouncing personal sin and 
social injustice, proclaiming the Gospel and defending the poor, 
yearning for the transcendent liberation of the Reign of God — that is 
what sentir con la Iglesia meant at the local level. It required not just 
intellectual assent but complete personal commitment. "I want to 
assure you, and I ask your prayers that I might be faithful to this 
promise, that I will not abandon my people but will run with them 
all the risks which my ministry demands of me." 118 

Thinking with the Bishop of Rome 

Romero's thinking with the Church extended beyond the 
borders of the archdiocese, nationally and internationally. 
Perhaps the best place to see this is in his somewhat rocky 
relationship with the Vatican. Romero visited Rome four times as 
archbishop. These trips provide the framework for an account of 
Romero's sentir with the universal Church. 

U6 Homilias, March 2, 1980. 


Jon Sobrino, "Hombre de Dios y Hombre de los Pobres," in La 

espiritualidad, 13 

Homilias, November 11, 1978. 

An Archbishop with an Attitude <& 39 

March 1977: Now, courage! 

Romero visited Rome two weeks after the murder of Rutilio 
Grande and his companions. Accompanied by Msgr. Urioste, he 
arrived in Rome on Sunday, March 27. 119 The first thing Romero did, 
Urioste says, was to pray at the Altar of the Confession in Saint 
Peter's. "Monserior Romero en- 
tered into profound prayer, as — ^ — - — ^^-^^ 
though he were bringing before The meet i ng w uh the Pope 

the tomb of Peter, the first pope of confirmed Romero in his 

history, all the worries of his new ministry, hut he worried 

ministry/' 120 Over the course of the about the attitude he had 

next week, he met with Paul VI, found among papal officials. 

with Cardinal Sebastiano Baggio, 

prefect of the Congregation for 

Bishops, with Archbishop Agostino Casaroli of the Council for the 
Church's Public Affairs, and with Father General Pedro Arrupe. 
Romero took to Rome a massive dossier of information about the 
situation of the church in El Salvador. He was not well received by 
Cardinal Baggio, who must already have received information from 
the nuncio about the misa unica after Father Grande's murder. 

Having gone to Rome "like St. Paul to St. Peter, to test the 
Gospel he preached, so as not to waver from the true Christian 
tradition, ,, Romero was especially eager to meet the Pope. 121 After 
the regular Wednesday general audience, Paul VI drew Romero 
aside for a private meeting. Romero gave the Pope a photograph of 
Rutilio Grande and described his own effort to be a pastor in the 
spirit of Vatican II, Medellin, and Evangelii nuntiandi. The Pope took 
Romero's hands in his own and said to him, "Qui, e Lei che coman- 
da! Allora, coraggio!" (See here! You are the one in charge. Cour- 
age!). 122 


Summary of trip in Brockman, Romero: A Life, 19-22. 


Quoted in Maria Lopez Vigil, Piezas para un retrato, 4th ed. (San Salvador: 
UCA Editores, 1998), 145. 


Quoted by Delgado, Biografia, 85. 


Urioste, in L6pez Vigil, Piezas, 146. 

40 «0> Douglas Marcouiller, S.J. 

The meeting with the Pope confirmed Romero in his ministry, 
but he worried about the attitude he had found among papal offi- 
cials. In fact, he began to wonder whether he would be replaced. 
Romero asked Cesar Jerez, the Jesuit provincial for Central America, 
who was in Rome to meet with Father Arrupe, "Father Jerez, do you 

think that they will remove me as 
— i — — — — — ^— archbishop of San Salvador?" 

RomeroS own tensions with "sar responded playfully that 

., . they'd probably not make him a 

the government were \. f _ J .. , 

, , , xr x , cardinal. Romero replied with all 

provoked by the government s „ r \, ,, . 

r AA 7 x ,. . A , seriousness: I would rather be 
attack on the dignity and , ,. . , , 

,., r 1 , , , . removed as archbishop and go 

liberty of the church and its .. u u A u , , u . u . u .? 

* J , , . T with head held high than turn the 

assault on the human rights church Qver tQ ^ s of ^ 

of so many defenseless people. world «.* Jcsfis Delgado tells a 

^^^.^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ nearly identical story. To be re- 
moved would be a severe blow, 
"but he was ready to face it with head held high with the satisfac- 
tion of not permitting the church to fall into the hands of the power- 
ful of this world. He said as much to more than one person." 124 

Romero wrote to Baggio from San Salvador at the end of July 
1977. He expressed "tranquility of conscience" about the way he had 
led the archdiocese during his first five months as archbishop, and 
he pointed to "an exuberant resurgence of the pastoral life of the 
church and the confidence and credibility that the church is gaining 
among the people." 125 A few pastoral workers, "overly sensitive to 
the political and social problems of our environment," may have 
acted imprudently, but they were neither Marxists nor subversives, p 

Romero's own tensions with the government were provoked by the 
government's attack on the dignity and liberty of the church and its 
assault on the human rights of so many defenseless people. "Emi- 
nence, if, in spite of this tranquility of my conscience, the Holy See 
judges that these are not the most appropriate pastoral criteria, I 
await your observations; I am even ready with humility and respect 
to entrust to other hands the helm of this beloved church." 


Jerez quoted ibid., 147 f. 
124 Delgado, Biografia, 86. 


Letter to Baggio, July 1977 (The Brockman Romero Papers). 

An Archbishop with an Attitude ^ 41 

Romero's letter noted that, far from supporting his ministry in 
such a difficult time, the nuncio undercut him. " Analyzing this 
strange attitude on the part of His Excellency, I have concluded that 
His Excellency lives very far from the problems of our clergy and 
our humble people/' For his part, Bishop Eduardo Alvarez, the 
bishop of San Miguel and military vicar, had done nothing to defend 
the church from the attack by the Salvadoran army. Given the 
circumstances, Romero wrote, the position of military vicar was 
harmful and should be suppressed. 

In December, looking forward to the World Day of Peace that 
Paul VI wished to be celebrated with the motto "No to Violence, Yes 
to Peace/' Romero wrote to Cardinal Villot, Vatican secretary of 
state. In quite a level tone, Romero described how the mission of 
evangelization continued in an atmosphere of disappearances, rape, 
and murder. Cardinal Villot responded in February that the Holy 
See was well informed by many sources, that it was careful to 
develop an "objective" evaluation of the data, and that, with the 
help of the Pontifical Representative and the other bishops, Romero 
should do everything possible to establish a fruitful dialog with the 
government. 126 

June 1978: A Friendly Little Chat 

On May 16, 1978, Cardinal Baggio sent a short note to Romero 
inviting him to Rome for a friendly chat. 127 Before receiving Baggio's 
letter, Romero had prepared a twenty-three-page report on his 
ministry in the archdiocese. 128 The report notes the difficulties — 
opposition from outside the church, opposition from the nuncio and 
other bishops — but also the unity of the church in the archdiocese, 
the flourishing of catechesis and sacramental life, and the solidarity 
of the church with the poor. Many of Rome's old complaints are 
again addressed: the misa unica, the refusal to attend the president's 
inauguration, Romero's demand that the government stop the 
repression of campesinos as a condition for dialog with the church, 
and the accusations of Marxism within the church. 


Letter of Cardinal Villot, February 18, 1978 (The Brockman Romero Papers). 


Letter in The Brockman Romero Papers. 

1 2fi 

Letter to Baggio, May 21, 1978, ibid. 

42 -0* Douglas Marcouiller, SJ. 

One can glimpse in the letter several dimensions of what it 
meant to Romero to think with the Church. He quotes over and 
over again the Scriptures, the documents of Vatican II and Medellin, 
Evangelii nuntiandi, Populorum progressio, Pacem in terris, and Quadrage- 
simo anno. Yet, citing Lumen gentium no. 12, he also refers to the 
"sensus fidei of the people." He appeals to "the clamor of my archdi- 
ocesan church in which I discerned the voice of the Holy Spirit," 
and notes as a sign of confirmation the remarkable unity of pastoral 
workers with the bishop. Romero sent this statement not only to 
Baggio but also to Cardinal Eduardo Pironio, the Argentine prefect 
of the Congregation for Religious, whom he considered a friend who 
understood his "desire to be faithful to the Gospel and to the cries of 
the poor." 129 

Romero, his vicar general Ricardo Urioste, and Bishop Arturo 
Rivera Damas, who was now the bishop of Santiago de Maria, left 
for Rome on June 17. Again, Ro- 
mero's first stop in Rome was the ^____^__^_^^^ 

tomb of St. Peter, "entrusting to St. //TT , .. . 

~ , tl ir , ii However, as long as it is 

Peter the welfare of our church .,, . .,.,.. 

, ,i L .,. i. i ..i within my responsibility, I 

and the success of this dialog with , , , 

the Holy See." 130 They then visited W J 11 ** ml V toplease the 

Father Arrupe Lo ™ and to serve nis Cnurcn 

and his people in accord with 
On Monday the bishops conscience in the light 

visited the Congregation for Bish- £ ., ^ 7 , ., 

. b ° , . of the Gospel and the 

ops, where they were asked to ■*■-.!•* 

i -4-u \* \a- i u Magistenum. 

speak with Msgr. Miguel Buro. ° 

Romero noted in his diary, "[T]he ——^—m———— 
conversation was useful for ex- 
pressing our own points of view in the few minutes in which we 
were allowed to speak, since he did almost all the talking." 131 

Romero met Cardinal Baggio at the Congregation for Bishops 
on June 20. He then composed a nine-page memo as a record of the 
meeting. According to the record, Baggio alleged that Romero had 
surrounded himself with untrustworthy priests who flattered him 
and made him think that he was a prophet. He disappointed those 

129 Letter to Pironio, June 8, 1978, ibid. 
™Diario pastoral, June 17, 1978. 
131 Ibid., June 19, 1978. 

An Archbishop with an Attitude <> 43 

who had backed his appointment expecting serenity and prudence. 
He allowed priests to become politicized. He marginalized Bishop 
Marco Rene Revelo, who had been assigned as auxiliary in San 
Salvador. Denying the nuncio the use of the cathedral for a quasi- 
diplomatic function with government officials caused "an almost 
irreparable scandal." Romero's homilies were criticized as very long 
and very concrete, although they were found to be without doctrinal 
error. Baggio was "terrified" to think of the sort of priests who 
would emerge from the seminary. 

Romero's memo says that he listened respectfully with a 
sincere desire to better orient his service of the church. He re- 
sponded, he wrote, with the sincerity of "one who recognizes what 
is true and, on the contrary, defends the truth when it has been 
disfigured by inexact or self-interested reports." 132 Serenity and 
prudence ran up against the suffering of his people, whose funda- 
mental rights, including the right 
to freely express their faith, had 
Devotion to Peter, gratitude been trampled. The conflict was 

to Paul VL, and acute tension not between the government and 
with most Vatican officials the church but between the gov- 

are all evident in this second ernment and the people. The 
visit. church simply carried out its mis- 

sion with the people. 133 In use of 
the cathedral, the real counter-wit- 
ness would be "a celebration in 
honor of the Holy Father in which honors are also paid to the 
hierarchy of a government guilty of so much abuse of the Church 
and of the people." Romero expressed the desire to work more 
closely with his auxiliary, Bishop Revelo, but also noted that the 
basis for a good working relationship was rather weak, for "he 
himself confessed — and Your Eminence confirmed to me — that he 
has been appointed 'to put the brakes on me.'" 

Although his homilies were long, people listened avidly as he 
showed how the Word of God sheds light on the concrete circum- 
stances of life. Some might listen out of mere curiosity, but that 
simply impelled Romero all the more to try to "rekindle faith where 


Report to Baggio, June 24, 1978 (The Brockman Romero Papers). 


This constant refrain can also be found in the homilies of January 21 and 

October 21, 1979. 

44 «0> Douglas Marcouiller, S.J. 

it may have been extinguished/' Sharing Baggio's concern for a 
clergy worthy of the complete confidence of the Holy See, Romero 
promised to give them even more support in their difficult mission. 
He also defended the popular veneration of the tombs of the mar- 
tyred priests Rutilio Grande and Alfonso Navarro. 

Finally, Baggio noted that some bishops had asked that Rome- 
ro be removed. Romero's record states: 

With the same simplicity as in our talk, I now write out that, if it be 
for the good of the church, with satisfaction I will give over to other 
hands this difficult government of the archdiocese. However, as long 
as it is within my responsibility, I will try only to please the Lord 
and to serve his Church and his people in accord with my con- 
science in the light of the Gospel and the Magisterium. 

Paul VI received Romero and Rivera the next day, after the 
Wednesday general audience. The account of this meeting in Rome- 
ro's Diario pastoral is marked by emotion. Paul VI and Romero 
clasped hands as they spoke. Romero remembered the warmth of 
the moment better than the precise words, but "the dominant ideas 
of those words were these: "I understand your difficult work. It is 

work that may be misunderstood. 

You must have great patience and 
The Pope then talked about great strength. I know that not 

the difficulty of pastoral everyone thinks as you do. . . . 

work in a political context [Nonetheless, proceed with spirit, 

like Romero's. He with patience, with strength, with 

recommended balance and hope." 

prudence. One should stick to Romero left a memorandum 

principles and avoid concrete with the Pope, a memorandum 
denunciations, for fear of that Romero saw several days later 

making mistakes. among the papers brought to a 

meeting by Archbishop Agostino 

Casaroli, secretary of the Council 
for the Church's Public Affairs. Romero noted in the memo that 
comments made in the various Vatican dicasteries coincided exactly 
with the criticisms made by the powerful forces in El Salvador that 
were trying to undermine his apostolic effort. This memo concludes, 
according to the Diario pastoral, professing faithfulness to the succes- 

Diario pastoral, June 21, 1978. 

An Archbishop with an Attitude O 45 

sor of Peter and to his Magisterium, faithfulness that provides "the 
guarantee of walking with my flock according to the Spirit of the 
Lord." 135 

At the end of this visit to Rome, Romero went again to Saint 
Peter's. 'There beside the tomb of St. Peter, I prayed the Apostles' 
Creed, asking the Lord for the fidelity and clarity to believe and to 
preach always that same faith of the apostle St. Peter." 136 Devotion to 
Peter, gratitude to Paul VI, and acute tension with most Vatican 
officials are all evident in this second visit. 

May 1979: He Reminded Me of Poland 

Paul VI died two months after Romero's visit with him. John 
Paul II had been pope six months by the time Romero next visited 
Rome. The Dominican Sisters of 
the Annunciation invited Romero 

to Rome for the beatification of The Pope told Romero to 

their founder, Francisco Coll, on continue to defend social 

Sunday, April 29, 1979. Since Holy justice and love of the poor, 

Week, Romero had been asking but also to ensure that the 

for an appointment to meet John popular movements did not 

Paul II during this trip, but he lose their Christian values 

found an audience hard to get. an d in the end do as much 

When the Pope greeted each bish- narm as tne dictatorship they 
op at the end of the Wednesday sought to remove. 

general audience, Romero asked 

his blessing for the Archdiocese of "^^~~^~~^^^^^^^^^~ 
San Salvador, and the Pope re- 
sponded that they "would have to talk in private." Romero replied 
that to do so was his greatest wish. Yet he still had trouble getting 
the appointment. 137 

Romero was finally received on Monday, May 7. 138 He brought 
documentation about the situation in the country, including interna- 

135 Ibid., June 21, 1978. 

136 Ibid., June 28, 1978. 
Diario pastoral, May 2, 1979. 

138 Ibid., May 7, 1979. 

46 <$> Douglas Marcouiller, S.J. 

tional reports that he apparently thought would carry more weight 
than his own testimony. When he pulled out all this documentation, 
the Pope smiled. There would not be time for so much. Romero 
suggested that the Holy Father order a study to be made of the 
documents and a summary to be composed, "because I wanted him 
to have an idea of how impartial observers sketch the situation of 
injustice in our country/' He also gave the Pope a file on the murder 
of Father Octavio Ortiz and his companions at El Despertar retreat 
center in January. 

The Pope then talked about the difficulty of pastoral work in a 
political context like Romero's. He recommended balance and pru- 
dence. One should stick to principles and avoid concrete denuncia- 
tions, for fear of making mistakes. 

I explained, and he agreed, that there are circumstances — I cited, for 
example, the case of Father Octavio — in which one must be very 
concrete because the injustice, the abuse, has been very concrete. He 
reminded me of his situation in Poland, where he faced a non- 
Catholic government. ... He gave great importance to the unity of 
the bishops. Returning again to his pastoral work in Poland, he said 
that the principal problem was to maintain unity among the bishops. 
I explained that I too wanted unity very much, but that unity should 
not be feigned but based on the Gospel and the truth. 

John Paul then referred to the report of the apostolic visitor, Bishop 
Quarracino, who "recommended as a solution to pastoral deficiencies 
and to the lack of unity among the bishops the appointment of an 
apostolic administrator sede plena" (ibid.). Romero noted in the Diario 
pastoral that it had been a useful visit and a frank discussion, and 
that "one ought not always to expect complete approval." He met 
again with Cardinal Baggio, who thought impractical the idea of 
naming an apostolic administrator, and then with a friend in the 
curia, who suggested confidentially that the apostolic administrator 
might have been proposed to test Romero's reaction. 139 Finally, he 
met with his friend Cardinal Pironio, the Argentine Prefect of the 
Congregation for Religious: 

He opened his heart to me, telling me that he, too, has had to suffer, 
as he feels deeply the problems of Latin America, which are not 

139 Ibid.,May8, 1979. 

An Archbishop with an Attitude <f 47 

completely understood by the Supreme Magisterium of the Church, 
and that, nonetheless, one must continue to work and to inform as 
much as possible about our true situation. And he said, "The worst 
thing you can do is lose heart. Animo, Romero!" 140 

As always, the trip ended with a visit to the tombs of the popes in 
Saint Peter's and "intense" prayer. 

A report by the journalist Maria Lopez Vigil suggests how 
difficult this third visit to Rome must have been for Romero. She 
met him in Madrid on his return trip to San Salvador, and Romero 
described to her the papal audience: 

The Holy Father insisted that I should get along with the govern- 
ment, so that there would be no conflict. And I tried to explain to 
him that the government persecuted the people, killed the people. 
... I said to him that the church cannot go along with a government 
like that. But he kept insisting on the same message, that I had to 
reach out to the government. For me that was impossible; before 
God it was impossible. Then I was bold enough to recall the words 
of Jesus Christ in the Gospel and to say to him, "Holy Father, Jesus 
says that he himself did not come to bring peace but the sword, 
conflict." And the Holy Father made a gesture with his hand and 
said, "Do not exaggerate, Monsenor." 141 

An aside: while still in Rome, Romero received a call from Urioste 
telling him of an attack on protesters near the cathedral. Urioste said 
that there were nine corpses in the cathedral, and that probably 
more people had been killed. 142 

January 1980: Not Only Social Justice and Love of the Poor 

Romero made his last visit to Rome in January 1980, on his 
way to Louvain to receive an honorary doctorate. The visit seems to 
have gone more smoothly than Romero's first encounter with John 
Paul II. Perhaps the young officers' October coup convinced some 
people that Romero had been right to condemn the previous regime. 
Romero's initially hopeful attitude toward the new government may 
have been read by the Vatican as an appropriately moderate re- 

140 Ibid.,May9, 1979. 

Maria Lopez Vigil, manuscript in the library of the Centro Monsenor 
Romero at the UCA in San Salvador. 


Diario pastoral, May 9, 1979. 

48 <$> Douglas Marcouiller, S.J. 

sponse. The Vatican had also received a favorable report on the 
archdiocese from Cardinal Aloisio Lorscheider of Fortaleza in Brazil, 
former president of the Latin American Episcopal Conference (CE- 
LAM), who had visited San Salvador, not as an official apostolic 
visitor, but as a fellow Latin American bishop and friend. 143 

Romero's first talk was with his friend Cardinal Eduardo Piro- 
nio, the Argentine prefect of the Congregation for Religious, who 
told Romero that Lorscheider had reported very favorably. That did 

not mean that all was well. Pironio 

— ^— ^^— ^^^^^^^^— went on to say, as Romero re- 

It is the Church's duty in corded in his diar y' that " if those 

history to lend its voice to who kil1 the bo ^ are terrible, 

/-i • * 4.1 j. i i even worse are those who attack 

Lhrtst so that he may speak. . . . , , 

, ± * xl . j ii the spirit, slandenne, defaming, 

its feet so that he may walk J f , . ° TT , ° 

A / , ii'^ii^ and destroying a person. He be- 

toaays world, its hands to ,. , ., . \ u j 

-.•?,•.* , lieved that to be my martyrdom, 

build the kingdom, and to even wjthin ^ church and he 

offer all its members to to]d me tQ have cour e «i44 

make up all that has still to 

be undergone by Christ/' Romero went to the Pope's 

general audience, at the end of 
which each bishop again was in- 
vited to greet the Pope. John Paul 

told Romero that he would like to talk with him. We have two 

accounts of the meeting in Romero's own words. The first account is 

in the Diario pastoral. 

He received me with much affection, telling me that he understood 
perfectly the difficulty of the political situation in my country, and 
that he was concerned about the role of the church. We should keep 
in mind not only the defense of social justice and love of the poor 
but also the possible upshot of a push from the Left, which could 
also be bad for the Church, (ibid.) 

Romero expressed complete agreement. 

I told him, "Holy Father, that is precisely the balance I try to main- 
tain. On the one hand, I defend social justice, human rights, and 
love of the poor. On the other, I pay attention to the appropriate 

Urioste, Interview, December 7, 2002. 


Diario pastoral, January 30, 1980. 

An Archbishop with an Attitude <> 49 

role of the church and guard that, while defending human rights, we 
do not fall into ideologies which destroy human sentiments and 

Romero again explained his work, citing exhortations drawn from 
the Pope's own speeches. "I felt that the Pope was in agreement 
with everything I said, and at the end, he gave me a very brotherly 
embrace and told me that he prayed every day for El Salvador. I 
have felt here the confirmation and the strength of God for my poor 
ministry" (ibid.). 

At home a week later, during his regular Sunday homily, 
Romero gave a second account of his meeting with John Paul II. 
Romero began by saying: 

When I met with the Holy Father, I felt that I did so not just person- 
ally but bringing the work of priests, religious, and faithful. And the 
encouraging words of the Pope also are encouragement for all the 
archdiocese. I want to tell you that the Holy Father knows our work 
well and is fully in agreement with our defense of social justice and 
our preferential love for the poor. The tendentious reports that are 
sometimes given about our relations with the Holy Father are built 
on nothing but the malicious desire to undercut our pastoral work, 
which the Pope knows much better than the media, who try to 
distort things. . . . We should know that the Pope is the one who 
most pushes forward the advances of the Second Vatican Council, 
and we should defend against all those currents within the Church 
that try to impede the progress of a Church more committed day by 
day to the service of the world. 145 

Later in the homily he expanded on the conversation with the 
Pope. The Pope did not "scold" him, as some said. The meeting was 
like that of Paul and Peter in Jerusalem. The Pope told Romero to 
continue to defend social justice and love of the poor, but also to 
ensure that the popular movements did not lose their Christian 
values and in the end do as much harm as the dictatorship they 
sought to remove. Romero said that he had agreed with the Pope 
and then added: 

But, Holy Father, in my country it is dangerous to talk about anti- 
Communism, because anti-Communism is espoused by the Right, not 
out of love for Christian values, but because of their own self-inter- 
est. . . . That is why I speak positively, praising the spiritual values, 

Homilias, February 10, 2002. 

50 -0- Douglas Marcouiller, SJ. 

the Christian values of my people, and saying that those values must 
always be defended. 

Romero himself recounts that this final visit with John Paul ended 
with confirmation and a brotherly embrace; but the conversation 
with Pironio suggests that at least some suspicions about Romero 

Looking back over the relations with the Vatican, Msgr. Urios- 
te, Romero's vicar general, makes two points. First, Romero "had a 
great devotion to the popes ... a great love for the Church and 
specifically for the popes . . . great respect, admiration, and devotion 
for the pope, whoever he might be, including John Paul II, who did 
not understand him. 146 Yet 

I believe that, sadly, the Vatican never understood Monsenor. ... It 
seems to me that the Church is not accustomed to that type of 
holiness. It is accustomed to another type of holiness, but not to the 
holiness of the person who sees what the Church must do directly in 
support of the human person, for the welfare of a country, for peace 
in a country, or for respect for human rights in a country. The 
Vatican interprets that simply as politics. ... I fear that they always 
thought of him as a politician, and that they still do. (ibid.) 

Romero's Thinking with the Church 

Some may find the exhortation to think with the Church remi- 
niscent of the old advice "Pray, pay, and obey." That sort of 
thinking with the Church can be difficult, of course. As I write, 
in February 2003, many U.S. Catholics struggle mightily to come to 
terms with the Vatican's criticism of U.S. policy toward Iraq. Rome- 
ro's way of thinking with the Church, however, is yet much more 

Intellectual assent to authoritative teaching was certainly part 
of Romero's sentir con la Iglesia. His homilies and letters are replete 
with quotations from conciliar and papal documents. In fact, the day 
before he died, denying the charge that the church was inappropri- 
ately "meddling in politics," Romero said he was simply trying to 
ensure that Vatican II, Medellin, and Puebla would be applied in 


Urioste, Interview, December 7, 2002. 

An Archbishop with an Attitude <> 51 

everyday life, so that the Gospel might be preached and the church's 
mission fulfilled. 147 Vicar General Ricardo Urioste goes so far as to 
call Romero "a martyr for the Magisterium," because Romero would 
never have been so bold had he not believed the teaching of the 
Church demanded it of him. 148 

The teaching of the Church demanded of Romero intellectual 
assent and much more. The teaching of the Church demanded that 
he read the signs of the times in the light of the Gospel. The teach- 
ing of the Church demanded that he pay attention to the concrete 
circumstances of the communities of the archdiocese and to the 
needs of Salvadoran society as a whole. The teaching of the Church 
called him to put himself on the line, to overcome his natural timid- 
ity, to identify himself with the church, the people of God, the Body 
of Christ in history. It called him to preach good news to the poor 
and to accept whatever conflict that might entail. Sometimes those 
conflicts were with members of the Church who understood its 
teaching differently, with the nuncio, who "lives very far from the 
problems of our clergy and our humble people/ 7 with Vatican 
officials who were often misinformed, with oligarchs who absolu- 
tized their wealth, with soldiers who absolutized their power, or 
with members of political movements who absolutized their organi- 
zations. 149 

Romero wrote: "It is the Church's duty in history to lend its 
voice to Christ so that he may speak, its feet so that he may walk 
today's world, its hands to build the kingdom, and to offer all its 
members 'to make up all that has still to be undergone by Christ'" 
(Col. 1:24). 150 As Romero said at Puebla, this is a "Church understood 
not only as the Magisterium but as a people, a people who put their 
hope in the church, a people who are themselves the church and are 
Christ, who has become flesh in a Latin American church of the 
poor, oppressed and suffering." In this light, he said, "St. Ignatius's 
'to be of one mind with the Church' would be 'to be of one mind 

U7 Homilias, March 23, 1980. 


Urioste, Interview, December 7, 2002. 


The quotation is from a letter to Baggio, July 29, 1977 (The Brockman 
Romero Papers). 

1 CLf) 

13U Romero, "The Church, The Body of Christ in History," 70. See "The Easter 
Church," 54. 

52 <0> Douglas Marcouiller, S.J. 

with the Church incarnated in this people who stand in need of 
liberation.'" 151 

The rules for thinking with the Church do not stand at the 
center of the Exercises. They come at the very end, almost as an 
afterthought. At the center of the Exercises is the encounter with 
Jesus Christ. Making the Exercises, Romero heard the call of the 
King and offered himself to the Eternal Lord of all things. The God 
who dwells with us and labors in the world today accepted his 
offering and sent him to those of whom Romero would say, "With 
this people, it is not hard to be a good pastor." 102 Sentir con la Iglesia, 

D Romero, "Reflections on the Spiritual Exercises, 101. 
"Con este pueblo no cuesta ser un buen pastor" (Homilias, November 18, 




I have just finished reading Wil- 
liam A. Barry's "Jesuit Spirituality tor 
the Whole of Life" (Studies 35, no. 1 
[January 2003]) and found it most in- 
teresting. You mentioned in your in- 
troduction that letters are welcome, so 
I am responding to your invitation. I 
am eighty-one years of age, retired, 
and living at Sacred Heart Jesuit Cen- 
ter in Los Gatos, Cal. I enjoyed your 
story about asking the English Jesuit,- 
"And what do you do, Father?" At 
Jesuit gatherings in our province, that 
is still the primary question! My -re- 
sponse is, "I don't do anything!" In my 
humble opinion that is the whole 
point of being retired. You may recall 
I wrote an article on that subject that 
was published in the National Jesuit 
News, April May, 1996. I was surprised 
how much response it received from 
various Jesuits throughout the assis- 
tancy. I am very interested in the sub- 
ject of Jesuit spirituality for those of 
us who are retired. 

I found the following observa- 
tions in Barry's piece to be of interest. 

His comments throughout the 
article that the "old" saying attributed 
to Ignatius should read "Pray as if 
everything depended on you; work as 
if everything depended on God." It 
makes a very big difference in the 
perspective of both prayer and work. 
I especially like the concept that trust 
in God is primary for the outcome of 
any work we may do, whether or not 
it is "successful." 

His comment on p. 27: "Included 
in these actions and events are our 
own aging bodies, our growing debili- 
ties, and, God help us, even our senil- 
ity, if that is our lot; included too is 
how we live with them." This is a 
very important observation, especially 
for those of us who in our old age are 
literally forced to do so. If we can do 
so gracefully, with the help of prayer, 
all the better. 

"At the same time we do not to- 
tally identify ourselves with our work 
or our institutions." This reminds me 
of a teaching attributed to C. G. Jung 
according to which we can become 
"persona-identified." That is, our 
whole identity depends on what kind 
of work we do and where we do it. 
When that work is no longer possible 
for us and we have no real person to 
fall back on, we can easily fall into a 
severe depression and a sense of 
hopelessness. I have come to believe 
that I was a person before I entered 
the order and took on the Jesuit per- 
sona, and I remain a person in my 
old age. 

"We cannot stave off the steady 
journey that leads to the grave." I live 
in a Jesuit house where all of us have 
our final status. After retirement, as- 
sisted living, and possibly the infirma- 
ry, the next step is the grave. We 
have a significant number oi funerals, 
and yet in our daily conversation the 
subject of death is never actually dis- 
cussed. I wonder what that savs about 


54 * Letters to the Editor 

our Ignatian spirituality in our later 

"These communities exist for the 
sake of the apostolate, not for the 
sake of the community." That is the 
best articulation I have heard of an 
answer to those who maintain we 
should let our old people remain in 
apostolic communities and not isolate 
them in houses of retirement or as- 
sisted living. We cannot get the care 
we need in an "apostolic community." 
Moreover, we become a burden on 
those engaged in the apostolate. Not 
being willing to move out to a proper 
facility provided by the province is, in 
my opinion, a breach of Ignatian in- 

I appreciate Fr. Barry's article and 
think it should be read and discussed 
widely in every province. I would 
have liked to see included some of 
the psychological dimensions of the 
issue, but perhaps that would be the 
subject of another article. Such things 
as the use of the Enneagram and the 
Myers/Briggs measurement could be 
very useful in interpreting the princi- 
ples of Ignatian spirituality to the 
ever-increasing population of aging 
Jesuits, who must always take into 
account individual differences that are 
inherent in every personality. 

My thanks to you and Bill 
Barry for giving us a very interesting 
and thoughtful issue. 

J. Ripley Caldwell, S.J. 

Sacred Heart Jesuit Center 

P.O. Box 128 

Los Gatos, CA 95031-0128 

1 1 urn ii i n i m il i ;n 1 1 m wwmm n i i 1 1 1 1 1 


Bill Barry has done a masterly job 
in addressing a very important con- 
temporary issue in the Society. How- 
ever, I feel it is an issue for active 
spirituality all the time, not just now 
and not just for Jesuits. It is an issue 
that surfaces and challenges anyone 
living an active spirituality. Bill's prac- 
tical, experiential approach will touch 
many people. 

I would buttress his presentation 
with what is another way of talking 
about the same issue. A Jesuit is al- 
ways on mission and blessed with a 
ministry. Most of us must retire from 
active work, which, Bill says, is 
difficult, even traumatic at times. But 
mission and ministry are not identi- 
fied with active work. "Retirement" is 
an important mission and involves 
"praying for the Society and the 
Church," as Bill describes that. The 
final mission and ministry for a Jesuit 
is to die. 

Every Jesuit mission and minis- 
try is rooted in the Trinity and 
springs from the heart of the Trinity. 
This is no pious theologism. It has all 
the practical effects that Bill speaks of 
in his reflection. We unintentionally 
mislead one another when our years 
of hard work imply that the mission 
and ministry of holiness are identified 
with hard work. This danger is exac- 
erbated when we talk too carelessly as 
though "mission" and "ministry" al- 
ways involve active work. Those two 
words must have a connotation of 
significance greater than "active 

This is true, I think, for Jesus. His 
mission was not equal to what he did. 
His mission involved his unique rela- 

Letters to the Editor 


tionship with the one he called "dear- 
ly beloved Father." It was the love in 
that relationship that influenced ev- 
erything he said and did, leading him 
finally to Calvary. Without denying 
the salvific quality of his whole life, 
we realize that Jesus is at his salvific 
best dying into Resurrection when he 
was doing very little. 

A Jesuit never retires from mis- 
sion. His experience of God's love 
gives him the freedom to follow God 
with appropriate enthusiasm and joy 
all through his life to the final minis- 
tries of retirement and dying. 

What I am stating here for Jesuits 
has important application for all sorts 
of people gifted with an active spiritu- 
ality. Bill Barry has done a great ser- 
vice for all of us living such an active 

I also appreciated the editor's in- 
troduction, which set up Bill's essay 
and readied us to hearken to his im- 
portant message. 

George Aschenbrenner, SJ. 

Jesuit Center for Spiritual Growth 
Wernersville, PA 19565-0223 



Jesuits in Late Baroque Prague 
by Paul Shore 

Villains or heroes in the perspective of earlier 
writers, the Jesuits of eighteenth-century Bohe- 
mia, at that time ruled by the Habsburgs, played a 
large role in its life. Headquartered in Prague but 
working throughout the land, the Society directed 
schools and universities, gave the Spiritual Exer- 
cises, preached missions, promoted its Baroque 
aesthetic in architecture, sculpture, painting, and 
drama. Based on primary sources, some unseen for 
two hundred years, this book details the accom- 
plishments of Jesuit priests, brothers, teachers, 
scholars, and scientists in the intellectual and 
cultural life of the kingdom. 

Dr. Paul Shore is a member of the faculty at Saint 
Louis University in the Department of Educational 
Studies and the Department of History. 

xiii + 267 pp. + Index Institute of Jesuit Sources 

$22.95 paperback 3601 Lindell Blvd. 

ISBN 1-880810-46-8 St. Louis, MO 63108 

Tel: 314-977-7257 
Fax: 314-977-7263 


Past Issues: Studies in the Spirituality of Jesuits 

(For prices, see inside back cover.) 

1/1 Sheets, Profile of the Contemporary Jesuit (Sept. 1969) 

1/2 Ganss, Authentic Spiritual Exercises: History and Terminology (Nov. 1969) 

2/1 Burke, Institution and Person (Feb. 1970) 

2/2 Futrell, Ignatian Discernment (Apr. 1970) 

2/3 Lonergan, Response of the Jesuit as Priest and Apostle (Sept. 1970) 

3/1 Wright, Grace of Our Founder and the Grace of Our Vocation (Feb. 1971) 

3/2 O'Flaherty, Some Reflections on Jesuit Commitment (Apr. 1971) 

3/4 Toner, A Method for Communal Discernment of God's Will (Sept. 1971) 

3/5 Sheets, Toward a Theology of the Religious Life (Nov. 1971) 

4/2 Two Discussions: I. Spiritual Direction, II. Leadership and Authority (Mar. 1972) 

4/3 Orsy, Some Questions about the Purpose and Scope of the General Congregation (June 1972) 

4/4 Ganss, Wright, O'Malley, O'Donovan, Dulles, On Continuity and Change: A Symposium 
(Oct. 1972) 

5/1-2 O'Flaherty, Renewal: Call and Response (Jan. -Mar. 1973) 

5/3 Arrupe, McNaspy, The Place of Art in Jesuit Life (Apr. 1973) 

5/4 Haughey, The Pentecostal Thing and Jesuits (June 1973) 

5/5 Orsy, Toward a Theological Evaluation of Communal Discernment (Oct. 1973) 

6/3 Knight, Joy and Judgment in Religious Obedience (Apr. 1974) 

7/1 Wright, Ganss, Orsy, On Thinking with the Church Today (Jan. 1975) 

7/2 Ganss, Christian Life Communities from the Sodalities (Mar. 1975) 

7/3 Connolly, Contemporary Spiritual Direction: Scope and Principles (June 1975) 

7/5 Buckley, The Confirmation of a Promise; Padberg, Continuity and Change in General 

Congregation XXXII (Nov. 1975) 

8/1 O'Neill, Acatamiento: Ignatian Reverence (Jan. 1976) 

8/2-3 De la Costa, Sheridan, and others, On Becoming Poor: A Symposium on Evangelical Poverty 
(Mar.-May 1976) 

8/4 Faricy, Jesuit Community: Community of Prayer (Oct. 1976) 

9/1-2 Becker, Changes in U.S. Jesuit Membership, 1958-75; Others, Reactions and Explanations 
(Jan.-Mar. 1977) 

9/4 Connolly, Land, Jesuit Spiritualities and the Struggle for Social Justice (Sept. 1977). 

9/5 Gill, A Jesuit's Account of Conscience (Nov. 1977) 

10/1 Kammer, "Burn-Out"— Dilemma for the Jesuit Social Activist (Jan. 1978) 

10/4 Harvanek, Status of Obedience in the Society of Jesus; Others, Reactions to Connolly- Land 

(Sept. 1978) 

11/1 Clancy, Feeling Bad about Feeling Good (Jan. 1979) 

11/2 Maruca, Our Personal Witness as Power to Evangelize Culture (Mar. 1979) 

11/3 Klein, American Jesuits and the Liturgy (May 1979) 

11/5 Conwell, The Kamikaze Factor: Choosing Jesuit Ministries (Nov. 1979) 

12/2 Henriot, Appleyard, Klein, Living Together in Mission: A Symposium on Small Apostolic 

Communities (Mar. 1980) 

12/3 Conwell, Living and Dying in the Society of Jesus (May 1980) 

12/4-5 Schineller, Newer Approaches to Christology and Their Use in the Spiritual Exercises (Sept. -Nov 

13/1 Peter, Alcoholism in Jesuit Life (Jan. 1981) 

13/3 Ganss, Towards Understanding the Jesuit Brothers' Vocation (May 1981) 

13/4 Reites, St. Ignatius of Loyola and the Jews (Sept. 1981) 

14/1 O'Malley, The Jesuits, St. Ignatius, and the Counter Reformation (Jan. 1982) 

14/2 Dulles, St. Ignatius and Jesuit Theological Tradition (Mar. 1982) 

14/4 Gray, An Experience in Ignatian Government (Sept. 1982) 

14/5 Ivern, The Future of Faith and Justice: Review of Decree Four (Nov. 1982) 

15/1 O'Malley, The Fourth Vow in Its Ignatian Context (Jan. 1983) 

15/2 Sullivan and Faricy, On Making the Spiritual Exercises for Renewal of Jesuit Charisms (Mar. 


15/3-4 Padberg, The Society True to Itself: A Brief History of the 32nd General Congregation of the 

Society of Jesus (May-Sept. 1983) 

15/5-16/1 Tetlow, Jesuits' Mission in Higher Education (Nov. 1983-Jan. 1984) 

16/2 O'Malley, To Travel to Any Part of the World: Jeronimo Nodal and the Jesuit Vocation (Mar. 


16/3 O'Hanlon, Integration of Christian Practices: A Western Christian Looks East (May 1984) 

16/4 Carlson, "A Faith Lived Out of Doors": Ongoing Formation (Sept. 1984) 

16/5 Kinerk, Eliciting Great Desires: Their Place in the Spirituality of the Society of Jesus (Nov. 1984) 

17/1 Spohn, St. Paul on Apostolic Celibacy and the Body of Christ (Jan. 1985) 

17/2 Daley, "In Ten Thousand Places": Christian Universality and the Jesuit Mission (Mar. 1985) 

17/3 Tetlow, Dialogue on the Sexual Maturing of Celibates (May 1985) 

17/4 Spohn, Coleman, Clarke, Henriot, Jesuits and Peacemaking (Sept. 1985) 

17/5 Kinerk, When Jesuits Pray: A Perspective on the Prayer of Apostolic Persons (Nov. 1985) 

18/1 Gelpi, The Converting Jesuit (Jan. 1986). 

18/2 Beirne, Compass and Catalyst: The Ministry of Administration. (Mar. 1986) 

18/3 McCormick, Bishops as Teachers and Jesuits as Listeners (May 1986) 

18/5 Tetlow, The Transformation of Jesuit Poverty (Nov. 1986). 

19/1 Staudenmaier, United States Technology and Adult Commitment (Jan. 1987) 

19/2 Appleyard, Languages We Use: Talking about Religious Experience (Mar. 1987) 

19/5 Endean, Who Do You Say Ignatius Is? Jesuit Fundamentalism and Beyond (Nov. 1987) 

20/1 Brackley, Downward Mobility: Social Implications of St. Ignatius s Two Standards (Jan. 1988) 

20/2 Padberg, How We Live Where We Live (Mar. 1988) 

20/3 Hayes, Padberg, Staudenmaier, Symbols, Devotions, and Jesuits (May 1988) 

20/4 McGovern, Jesuit Education and Jesuit Spirituality (Sept. 1988) 

20/5 Barry, Jesuit Formation Today: An Invitation to Dialogue and Involvement (Nov. 1988) 

21/1 Wilson, Where Do We Belong? United States Jesuits and Their Memberships (Jan. 1989) 

21/2 Demoustier, Calvez, et al., The Disturbing Subject: The Option for the Poor (Mar. 1989) 

21/3 Soukup, Jesuit Response to the Communication Revolution (May 1989) 

22/1 Carroll, The Spiritual Exercises in Everyday Life (Jan. 1990) 

22/2 Bracken, Jesuit Spirituality from a Process Prospective (March 1990) 

22/3 Shepherd, Fire for a Weekend: An Experience of the Exercises (May 1990) 

22/4 O'Sullivan, Trust Your Feelings, but Use Your Head (Sept. 1990) 

22/5 Coleman, A Company of Critics: Jesuits and the Intellectual Life (Nov. 1990) 

23/1 Houdek, The Road Too Often Traveled (Jan. 1991) 

23/2 DiGiacomo, Ministering to the Young (March 1991) 

23/3 Begheyn and Bogart, A Bibliography on St. Ignatius's Spiritual Exercises (May 1991) 

23/4 Shelton, Reflections on the Mental Health of Jesuits (Sept. 1991) 

23/5 Toolan, "Nature Is a Heraclitean Fire" (Nov. 1991) 

24/1 Houdek, Jesuit Prayer and Jesuit Ministry: Context and Possibilities (Jan. 1992) 

24/2 Smolich, Testing the Water: Jesuits Accompanying the Poor (March 1992) 

24/3 Hassel, Jesus Christ Changing Yesterday, Today, and Forever (May 1992) 

24/4 Shelton, Toward Healthy Jesuit Community Living (Sept. 1992) 

24/5 Cook, Jesus' Parables and the Faith That Does Justice (Nov. 1992) 

25/2 Donahue, What Does the Lord Require? (March 1993)— ONCE AGAIN AVAILABLE 

25/3 Padberg, Ignatius, the Popes, and Realistic Reverence (May 1993) 

25/4 Stahel, Toward General Congregation 34 (Sept. 1993) 

25/5 Baldovin, Christian Liturgy: An Annotated Bibliography (Nov. 1993) 

26/1 Tetlow, The Most Postmodern Prayer (Jan. 1994) 

26/2 Murphy, The Many Ways of Justice (March 1994) 

26/3 Staudenmaier, To Fall in Love with the World (May 1994) 

26/4 Foley, Stepping into the River (Sept. 1994) 

26/5 Landy, Myths That Shape Us (Nov. 1994) 

27/1 Daley, "To Be More like Christ" (Jan. 1995) 

27/2 Schmidt, Portraits and Landscapes (March 1995) 

27/3 Stockhausen, I'd Love to, but I Don't Have the Time (May 1995) 

27/4 Anderson, Jesuits in Jail, Ignatius to the Present (Sept. 1995) 

27/5 Shelton, Friendship in Jesuit Life (Nov. 1995) 

28/1 Begheyn, Bibliography on the History of the Jesuits (Jan. 1996) 

28/2 Veale, Saint Ignatius Speaks about "Ignatian Prayer" (March 1996) 

28/3 Clooney, In Ten Thousand Places, in Every Blade of Grass (May 1996) 

28/4 Starkloff, "As Different As Night and Day" (Sept. 1996) 

28/5 Beckett, Listening to Our History (Nov. 1996) 

29/1 Hamm, Preaching Biblical Justice (Jan. 1997) 

29/2 Padberg, The Three Forgotten Founders (March 1997) 

29/3 Byrne, Jesuits and Parish Ministry (May 1997) 

29/4 Keenan, Are Informationes Ethical? (Sept. 1997) 

29/5 Ferlita, The Road to Bethlehem-Is It Level or Winding? (Nov. 1997) 

30/1 Shore, The Vita Christi of Ludolph of Saxony and Its Influence on the Spiritual Exercises of 

Ignatius of Loyola (Jan. 1998) 

30/2 Starkloff, "I'm No Theologian, but . . . (or So . . . )?" (March 1998) 

30/3 Torrens, The Word That Clamors (May 1998) 

30/4 Petrik, "Being Sent" (Sept. 1998) 

30/5 Jackson, "One and the Same Vocation" (Nov. 1998) 

31/1 Clifford, Scripture and the Exercises (Jan. 1999) 

31/2 Toohig, Physics Research, a Search for God (March 1999) 

31/3 Fagin, Fidelity in the Church— Then and Now (May 1999) 

31/4 Schineller, Pilgrim Journey of Ignatius (Sept. 1999) 

31/5 Fullam, Juana, S.J: Status of Women in the Society (Nov. 1999) 

32/1 Langan, The Good of Obedience in a Culture of Autonomy (Jan. 2000) 

32/2 Blake, Listen with Your Eyes (March 2000) 

32/3 Shelton, When a Jesuit Counsels Others (May 2000) 

32/4 Barry, Past, Present, and Future (Sept. 2000) 

32/5 Starkloff, Pilgrimage Re-envisioned (Nov. 2000) 

33/1 Kolvenbach et al., Faith, Justice, and American Jesuit Higher Education (Jan. 2001) 

33/2 Keenan, Unexpected Consequences: Parsons's Christian Directory (March 2001) 

33/3 Arrupe, Trinitarian Inspiration of the Ignatian Charism (May 2001) 

33/4 Veale, Saint Ignatius Asks, "Are You Sure You Know Who I Am?" (Sept. 2001) 

33/5 Barry and Keenan, How Multicultural Are We? (Nov. 2001) 

34/1 Blake, "City of the Living God" (Jan. 2002) 

34/2 Clooney, A Charism for Dialog (March 2002) 

34/3 Rehg, Christian Mindfulness (May 2002) 

34/4 Brackley, Expanding the Shrunken Soul (Sept. 2002) 

34/5 Bireley, The Jesuits and Politics in Time of War (Nov. 2002) 

35/1 Barry, Jesuit Spirituality for the Whole of Life (Jan. 2003) 

35/2 Madden/Janssens, The Training of Ours in the Sacred Liturgy (March 2003) 

35/3 Marcouiller, Archbishop with an Attitude (May 20Q3) 

♦ New ♦ 
Common Testimony 

by Carl F. Starkloff, S.J. 

The puzzle of "faith and culture," of "inculturation," has 
been with Christianity almost from its beginnings. Customs of 
the American Indians (1724; English translation 1974) by 
Joseph Lafitau, S.J., also deals with that puzzle. What he was 
struggling with was cut from the same cloth as the struggle of 
Las Casas, Ricci, Ramon Lull, Boniface, Gregory I, or Augustine of 
Canterbury, stretching back to the "Council of Jerusalem." 

Ethnologists regard Lafitau 's work as a "classic"; even today 
researchers admire it as a gold mine because of its wealth of 
data. Yet few theologians know of him or his work. Common 
Testimony: Ethnology and Theology in the Customs of Joseph 
Lafitau situates Lafitau and his work in France and among Native 
Americans in the contexts of his times, deals with him as an 
ethnologist and as a "systematic theologian," and discusses his 
work in the light of the thought of two contemporary theologians 
on religion, Bernard Lonergan and Karl Rahner. 

The author of Common Testimony, Carl F. Starkloff, S.J., has 
combined a career as a systematic theologian with work among 
Native Americans. He has taught at Regis College of the Toronto 
School of Theology, at Rockhurst University, and at Saint Louis 
University. Most recently he has been an associate editor at the 
Institute of Jesuit Sources and is presently vice-president for 
Missions and Ministry at Saint Louis University. 

xii + 218 pages, Index The Institute of Jesuit Sources 

$18.95 paperback 3601 Lindell Blvd. 

ISBN 1-880810-44-1 St. Louis Mo, 63108 

Tel: 314-977-7257 
Fax: 314-977-7263 



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